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Federal judge declines to block Indiana law targeting The Bail Project

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A federal judge has rejected a request to block Indiana’s new bail law.

The law targeted groups like The Bail Project. The Bail Project has drawn scrutiny after helping bail out people who were later accused of committing violent crimes.

A new law would require the group to become certified by the Indiana Department of Insurance. The group would also not be allowed to post bail for certain defendants.

“The Bail Project alleges that HEA 1300 — which becomes effective July 1, 2022 — violates the First Amendment’s right to free speech and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause,” Judge James Patrick Hanlon wrote. “The Bail Project has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that would prevent the Department of Insurance from enforcing HEA 1300 against it. Because The Bail Project has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits justifying a preliminary injunction, that motion is DENIED.”

Judge Hanlon also wrote, “The Bail Project thus has not shown a likelihood of success on its claim that Indiana has no interest in regulating charitable bail organizations.”

The bill’s author, Rep. Peggy Mayfield, applauded Wednesday’s ruling, calling it a well-reasoned opinion.

“This law is not about the policy of cash bail, but ensuring there’s conformity in the oversight and enforcement of rules over all entities that operate in this highly regulated industry,” Rep. Mayfield said in a statement to WISH-TV. “Before this law, charitable bail organizations worked without supervision in our state. Along with equitable regulation, the law also offers protections for clients from bad actors and enhances public safety by better tracking who posts bail for defendants.”

Ken Falk, legal director for ACLU of Indiana, issued this statement: “This case is still alive and the court will be considering the merits of our argument about the far-reaching first amendment and equal protection implications of the new law. The only thing that today’s decision means is that the law will not be paused while the case proceeds.”