Truly Torn

Oh, Mike Pence! Sometimes you do confound me! Apparently, you’ve accidentally done something good!

According to a recent report in The Indiana Lawyer, 

Under the administration of Gov. Mike Pence, legal fees paid to the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana have soared beyond $1.4 million and may approach $2 million, according to an Indiana Lawyer analysis. The $1.4 million total does not include fees that have been or will be paid in the current fiscal year ending June 30 or other legal fees ACLU claims are owed by the state. The fees represent the state’s payment of legal bills to parties who prevail in federal court on claims that government action violated their constitutionally protected civil rights.

Regular readers of this blog will remember that I spent six years (1992-98) as the Executive Director of Indiana’s ACLU. Those were rewarding years in so many ways–I learned so much and met so many wonderful people; it was so gratifying to be part of an organization that defended individual liberties…..

But I must admit that the most vivid memory I took with me when I left the ACLU for academic life was the constant pressure of fundraising. We had wonderful lawyers and dedicated clerical staff, and we all worked for a pittance–but I had to raise that pittance. The ACLU only has two sources of income: charitable gifts (fundraising) and legal fees.

And legal fees aren’t a given. The organization only gets legal fees when it wins a lawsuit and the law allows such recovery. Even when the organization is successful and the case is a fee-generating one, it can take years of litigation–first, the case itself, then a fight over fees…

So I really, honestly do want to thank Governor Pence for his largesse to Indiana’s ACLU. I mean, $2 million dollars is a windfall! It should allow the ACLU some much-needed “breathing room,” some assurance that it will “be there”–in a position to protect LGBT Hoosiers from discrimination, reproductive rights from theocratic lawmakers, public school students from government-imposed prayer, law-abiding citizens against official overreach…Well, you all get the idea.

Here’s another idea: Each time Indiana’s constitutionally clueless Governor and AG lose another case to the ACLU, let’s all send the ACLU a few extra dollars to celebrate. Because after November, I have a feeling this bonanza may dry up….and Jane Henegar, the wonderful current Executive Director, will have to resume her begging.

Send a few bucks to Indiana’s ACLU in “honor” of Governor Pence.


  1. Yes, yes, yes!
    This is the way forward.
    Southern Poverty Law Center and Morris Dees has shown the way.
    The downside is the time involved, but Jane must use the same appeal SPLC does for contributions.
    Any statewide Democrat that does not use this argument (of legal compensation) against the continual useless constitutional bills passed and later suits by the AG is clueless.
    Thank you !
    I am not torn at all. This is the way forward.

  2. Great Idea …

    Tag all donations “The Mike Pence Fund” and send
    directly to the ACLU in Indianapolis …

  3. Pence and Bosma are lawyers. They KNOW these laws they’re passing are unconstitutional, and they do it anyway. Why? “Free” (to them) campaign funding.

    Yes, Indiana taxpayers are paying for Pence and his Clueless Cronies in the legislature to be able to claim to voters that they’re defending “Christian” values. Never mind that pesky separation of church and state thing. And never mind the fact that Christians are not supposed to persecute anyone.

    It does, however, serve as a wonderful distraction from their complete failure to do anything else to address REAL problems in Indiana.

  4. Sorry folks for yesterday’s kerfuffle. Perhaps the only advantage of advancing age is the freedom to be less patient and more stubborn. I take advantage of the kindness of strangers now by occasionally exercising those expectations of grumpydom.

    It is amazing to me that conservatives are passionately supportive apparently of some constitution, just not ours.

    Their constant attacks on it though are reminders of what a fine job we were lucky enough to inherit from others from so long ago. It really is a remarkable design of government and especially in the function of the Supreme Court’s responsibility to apply it to ever changing times without compromising it’s fundamental tenets.

    Brilliantly designed and executed especially considering the times in which it was born.

    You think that given it’s early victory in realizing what government could and should be it would be treated more like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, with great reverence and more intense general education, but I suppose that it’s been doing such an important and successful job for so long that we take it for granted.

    Whenever we see the messes of the world like now going on in Syria our first reaction should be that there, but for the wisdom agreed to and documented by our founders, go we.

  5. Well, Governor Pence could never come right out and say he supports the ACLU, so he cleverly hides his support behind a myriad of bad laws, knowing full well that ACLU will prevail in court. What a canny politician he’s turned out to be. 😉

  6. Well, Governor Pence could never come right out and say he supports the ACLU, so he cleverly hides his support behind a myriad of bad laws, knowing full well that ACLU will prevail in court. What a canny politician he’s turned out to be. 😉

  7. Well, well. This answers what I’ve always wondered: What happens to all those unconstitutional laws that the legislature loves to pass? This is sure a sneaky way of supporting the ACLU. I didn’t know the legislature was such a supporter of freedom, but I’m glad to hear it.

  8. Careful! If ‘they’ get wind of this they’ll change the law from ‘usual & customary’ to ‘fees actually paid.’

    It would decimate Pro Bono work for conservatives, too, but since scorched earth seems to be the general policy they won’t care.

  9. Pete, don’t accredit it to age. ( I’m probably older than you) Most likely it’s forgetting Shakespeare’s admonition: ” Brevity is the soul of wit!

    At times, we just need a little bit of soul.

  10. Brilliant idea, Sheila! We need to share this with all the anti-Pence groups. I sure hope you’re right that he will be gone by next year, but I’m worried about where he may show up next.

  11. Pete, I appreciate your posts. They are thoughtful and thought-provoking without resorting to ad hominem attacks or other illogic. Keep ’em coming.

  12. With the wisdom of hindsight we conclude that the choice of democratic freedom is clearly the best alternative – what works best.

    When the Constitution was written though that was far from obvious.

    Would the average person know enough to choose good leaders? Would they be responsible enough to consider the greater good? Could diverse areas of the country that essentially compete with each other put aside their differences? Could a huge powerful central government be agile enough to take its place next to European small countries? Could slave owners and freedom lovers coexist? Is 3,000 by 1,500 miles even manageable?

    Apparently so if the government is staffed by the people’s choices.

    Who knew?

  13. Pete, your grumpydom was understood and is forgiven. I appreciated your original post, and this from one who owns a home here in Indy and one in Gulf Shores, Alabama ?.

  14. How to save attorney’s fees to the ACLU? Easy. Pass rational legislation.

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