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Supreme Court justice's visit expected to draw property owner's rights protesters Tuesday

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The atmosphere of the Columbia City Rotary Club's normally austere meeting could be contentious this week.
At the invitation of the club, Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven H. David will speak, drawing the attention of groups outraged about his rulings on matters involving issue of property owner's rights and law enforcement.
A US Army colonel, David was chief defense counsel for detainees at Guantanamo Bay. He is a recipient of the nation's third highest non-combat medal, the Defense Superior Service Award. David was appointed as the 106th Indiana Supreme Court Justice by Governor Mitch Daniels in 2010.
David is perhaps most well-known for his ruling on the May 2011 Barnes v. State of Indiana case in which the State was, for the first time, challenged on the common-law right for an individual to resist unlawful entry to a person's home or property by police. In that case, a couple was involved in a domestic dispute and when an officer attempted to gain entry to their apartment at the implied request of one party -- but not both. The court ruled in favor of the State noting that because it was a domestic violence situation and because of the nature of emergency police work, police could gain access to a property under current legal statutes, stating: "A 911 call generally details emergency or exigent circumstances requiring swift police action. In these cases, the officers are responding to rapidly changing or escalating events, and their initial response is often based on limited information. The officers cannot properly assess the complaint and the dangers to those threatened without some limited access to the involved parties. It is unrealistic to expect officers to wait for threats to escalate and for violence to become imminent before intervening. Here, the officers acted reasonably under the totality of the circumstances."
This property owner's rights issue has become a hot one for Hoosier Tea Partiers, including the Whitley County Patriots, who plan to protest at Tuesday's Rotary meeting. Additionally, members of a state-wide online groups called "Remove Justice Steven H. David in 2012" and "NO in NOvember" have announced plans to attend and protest as well.
Protests, however, are expected to be limited to the parking lot outside the meeting -- which will take place at the Eagles Nest Event Center in Columbia City.
"It's a regular Rotary meeting, so you have to be a guest of a member to attend," said Columbia City Rotary Club president Jim Banks. "The meetings aren't open to the public. This is a private Rotary meeting."
While Tea Partiers and others cannot actually attend the meeting, they may be allowed to protest outside.
"I certainly welcome the right of the Tea Party folks to protest and personally I agree with what they're protesting, but it's hard to imagine what it will be like," Banks said. Banks is anticipating a sign-waiving, peaceful protest of the speaker.
"Their goal is to draw attention to their efforts to prevent his retention on the November ballot," added Banks.
Banks does not see the possibly large gathering of people outside the meeting to be an issue -- though it is likely the first time a club meeting has drawn such public interest.
"I don't see this as a bad thing for Rotary at all. We've tried to be a club that dives into interesting topics. This is a Supreme Court justice invited by a personal friend of his. Like a lot of other speakers we've had, it's a great opportunity for our members to ask questions," added Banks. "At the end of the day, we're honored to have him, whether we agree with him or not."
As is typical with most Rotary speakers, David was invited by a friend to speak at the event and confirmed via the club's programming chairmen.
Whitley County Patriots member Linda Zimmerman hopes she has an opportunity to speak with David. "The property rights decision he made in the Ogden Dune suit upset me even more than the more widely publicized 'home castle' case," she said. "Both cases were really bad decisions."
Warsaw resident Jon Fussle is a member of a group of people planning to attend Tuesday outside Whitley County.
"I regret that this is a Rotary meeting we’re disrupting, and I would actually like to hear Justice David further explain his thought process when he ruled against the people and our Constitutional freedom to be “secure in [our] persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”  and to require that any search be legalized by a proper warrant, as stated in the full text of the 4th Amendment," Fussle said.
"I respect the right of the Rotary Club to keep the public out of these meetings, and I do not have a problem with that," Fussle continued. "However, I believe that Justice David was terribly wrong in his writing for the majority when he said that our 'right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.' The fact that a Supreme Court Justice would bypass an amendment to the United States Constitution and interject that “public policy” has more authority is simply incompatible with the oath he took when he accepted his position," said Fussle.
Fussle started a group on Facebook called "NO in NOvember" where he is rallying people to vote against David's retention.
"We are organizing an campaign to raise awareness about the retention vote for Supreme Court Justices and, more importantly, Justice Steven H. David’s opinion about the Constitution and, more specifically, his “modern” interpretation of the 4th Amendment," Fussle said. "We believe that if people fully understand the damage a Supreme Court Justice like Steven H. David can do to our liberty, Indiana will vote NO in NOvember."


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