We all know how proponents and opponents of SJR-7 are arguing over whether the text of that proposed "Marriage" amendment is crystal-clear or river-bottom muddy, what it means and what it doesn't. It now seems that a companion piece of legislation, SB289, is winding its way through the Indiana General Assembly largely un-noticed. It deals with making and publishing summaries of proposed constitutional amendments to simpllify the public's job in voting on them.
The bill would require the Indiana Legislative Council, whose control depends on the political alignment of the House and Senate, to come up with a "concise neutral summary" of a proposed constitutional amendment to be available at the polls. It also says that the committee has "absolute discretion" as to what goes into that summary, and the courts can't review the matter.
Funny, we've had lots of constitutional amendments proposed and passed before without the benefit of this legislation. A number of them have been pretty long. I've looked in vein for the flurry of proposed amendments that are now in need to such help, and find only one on the horizon. Guess which one? You've got it: SJR-7. It contains all of 43 words. Given the controversy over the matter anything other than simply presenting those 43 words would be totally unnecessary and longer than the amendment itself.
So what does its sponsor Senator Dillon have in mind here? And why now? I can perhaps understand the need and even the "finality" of summaries for much bulkier amendments. Not this one. If nothing else, SB289 ought to say that for amendments of 75 words or less, just the text gets presented, nothing more. Hoosiers are capable of reading SJR-7 in the original. If this measure goes to them, they need a totally unfiltered look at the fine print.