News From Terre Haute, Indiana


May 20, 2012

FLASHPOINT:Bipartisan vs. Nonpartisan

During the primary election season there was much discussion regarding whether bipartisanship is a positive or negative attribute as it relates to the work of the United States Congress. When I speak to students, I often mention the vital role of partisanship within the legislative branch of government. Since the majority party controls the legislative agenda, partisanship equates to being in a position of legislative leadership. But some — including former Sen. Evan Bayh and Sen. Olympia Snowe — blame the increase in partisanship in Congress for the U.S. Senate becoming “dysfunctional.”

The polarization of Congress has also spread to state capitols, with Indiana arguably starting to show some symptoms. While some believe this recent development is reflective of the current mood of the electorate, it should not be allowed to spill over into the other branches of government, particularly within our criminal justice system. Which brings me to an important point: while a certain amount of partisanship is intrinsic to the legislative branch of government, there is no room for partisanship in the work of the other branches, especially the judiciary.

There is an important difference between being nonpartisan and bipartisan. Judges, prosecutors, sheriffs and the Attorney General — the position I hold — are elected trusts, but in order to gain and maintain public confidence, we must remain nonpartisan in the work we perform. The heated partisanship of an election cycle must cool down between the election and taking the oath of office to uphold the law. The credibility of our system of justice depends upon how well we rise above politics in carrying out the duties of our offices.

It is a very infrequent case — such as with former Secretary of State Charlie White — when appointing two special prosecutors, one from each party, might be necessary to ensure greater public confidence in the system of justice. In most instances, one elected prosecutor is sufficient and serves objectively. But we must never allow partisanship to infect the process with cynicism and raise public doubts about the impartial administration of justice in Indiana. Many men and women serve as law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges. And though they might err, as is human, we should not cynically assume this is due to partisanship. The independence and integrity of Indiana’s judicial system has a long and distinguished history. It is a precious heritage that we must preserve for future generations.

The American form of government works best when our criminal justice system operates in a nonpartisan atmosphere. The fact that we are a nation of laws with constitutional safeguards in place to protect the rights of the individual should give the public a certain level of confidence in the system of justice, even if people express strongly-held political views during election season.

A robust and active democracy can and should coexist with a healthy respect for our institutions of law and order.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Raw: Black Boxes of Downed Jetliner Turned Over Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Recording May Show Attempt at Crash Cover-up 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' Raw: Gaza City Shelling Attack Bull Run Comes to Middle America
NDN Video
Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010