Courts should rulein adherence to law
A recent, troubling ruling by our local judiciary went against the City of Kokomo, which was trying to close a “gentlemen’s club” for violation of a zoning law. The club operated in a building in which a wall divided it from another business. With that business closed, the club removed the wall and expanded its business — by 19 percent, alleged the city — which violated a law limiting one-time expansion by that kind of business to no more than 10 percent.
The judge thought the whole situation was “incomprehensible.” But consider:
The club took down the wall in the building for the purpose of expanding its business, without making the building itself any bigger. A few simple measurements and a before-and-after comparison will reveal the percentage of expansion. If it is more than 10 percent, then the club is in violation of an existing, legitimate law currently in effect.
The city alleged a 19 percent, one-time expansion did take place, and if true the correct ruling should have been in the city’s favor. The judge said the way the law was worded, the club could have expanded by 10 percent on two consecutive days and legally reach the maximum allowed 20 percent expansion under the statute. But 19 percent is not 10 percent.
What is disturbing about this is the judiciary did not adhere to a legitimate, existing law. The court is not authorized to write law, and it was not in this case petitioned to call into question the legitimacy of the law, to evaluate it and determine if it is or isn’t properly conceived and written in the most efficient way to achieve what the city wants to accomplish with it.
The law exists as it has been written, and it is expected to be applied to the type of circumstances for which it was designed. To do otherwise the judiciary would have to re-write the law in order to make a ruling in some other way than what the law upholds.