Settling Scores and Legislating Badly

To this day, despite my aging memory, I can still vividly recall my law school Income Tax class–and not just because it was taught by the legendary Larry Jegen. The class was my first introduction to the phenomenon of laws like the one Jegen called “the crazy cousin rule.” This otherwise inexplicable provision, written in the appropriately impenetrable language of the tax code, allowed a tax deduction for any support rendered to certain relatives in mental institutions. Presumably, the author of the measure had such a relative, and he was using his elective position to write tax laws that would benefit him personally, by allowing him to recoup some of the costs involved. Public policy had nothing to do with it.

Which brings me to Mike Delph and his attempt to abolish the use of Grand Juries in Indiana.

As faithful readers of this blog (there are some, right?) will recall, I blogged about this odd proposal a while back, expressing my puzzlement. A more savvy observer of the political scene posted a comment, suggesting a motive for this seemingly bizarre effort: Delph, he said, was a friend of Charlie White, the Indiana Secretary of State who had been indicted by a grand jury on charges of theft and vote fraud.

That seemed petty and irrational even for Mike Delph, but an article about Charlie White’s upcoming trial in this morning’s Indianapolis Star┬áhas leant support to that explanation. In the lengthy background piece, Delph is quoted at several points about his friendship with White, and his conviction (no pun intended) that the charges were politically motivated. According to Delph, he and Charlie often pray together in Charlie’s office.

Now it all makes sense. A grand jury indicted his friend. Abolish grand juries.

It needn’t stop there. If your friend is mistakenly arrested by the police, abolish the police; if a doctor’s treatment harms your friend, abolish the practice of medicine….

I don’t know the content of those devotions in Charlie’s office, but may I suggest adding a prayer for less grandiosity and more common sense?