*Whew* Just finished 15 pages of this thread. THAT'S an accomplishment!
Woodworker, I'll put your post up in a special Report his weekend. Can someone post the difference between a hearing like this one, the administrative law one in GA, and a Court hearing? That would go nicely with the role and rule of evidence one that Woodworker did.
The difference between a judicial trial and an administrative hearing is critical. It may be masked by the fact that when appropriate, the two types of hearing sometime adopt what look like similar procedures, but the goals of the procedures are different.
A trial is a formal contest between two parties, where the goal is to vindicate the rights of the parties before the court, the plaintiff as well as the defendant. The effect on the world at large is basically irrelevant. Anyone with a dog in the hunt had best lawyer up and get involved, or waive their rights. Rules of procedure are strict and enforced upon the demand of a party whose rights are infringed by a failure to adhere to procedure. In theory, this is supposed to lead to "justice." In reality, it usually does, at least when both parties are adequately represented. This may not be the case when one side is a huge corporation with 20 lawyers and the other side is a pro se defendant. However, I'll argue social justice in civil litigation another time. The most important issue for this discussion is that a trial is something occurring before part of the JUDICIAL branch, which decides controversies between parties.
An administrative hearing is a hearing by a part of the executive branch, generally an administrative agency. The executive branch does not generally make binding determinations as to what the law is. The job of the executive branch is to DO. Unlike the relatively helpless judiciary, the executive branch has people who go out and DO things, build buildings, administer programs, and even, in the case of resistance, send out guys with guns to eliminate the resistance and THEN do things. The purpose of inviting public comment and participation does not reflect a core purpose of resolving disputes of rights between private parties, but reflects a general desire that the public participate in carrying out the law. It is not the job of the executive branch to question what the law is, but to carry it out.
This dichotomy is reflected in this way in these kinds of hearings. To initiate a civil trial, one must have standing and some reason your name should be on the caption. You generally won't get a trial if you sue for your next-door neighbor to be compelled to wear suspenders, because you think he'd look better that way. By comparison, an administrative hearing is about an executive agency carrying out its duties. Often, there is a compulsory hearing (like the Election Commission hearing) to allow the public to comment and state its views. Anyone interested can show up. Usually, that is people within the jurisdiction who have opinions. The very basis of allowing challengers and public comments at an Election Commission (at least one constituted as Indiana's is) is to allow public commentary by the very public (Indiana voters) who are impacted by the Commission's decisions. (Needless to say, Moldovan Communists are not among this public.)
Notably, many administrative hearings these days, such as benefits hearings, do actually involve substantive rights. I won't go into this in any detail, but just repeat my reference that Judge Friendly's works on due process in the administrative realm are the core of modern thinking on the subject, and while I am personally considerably more liberal than Friendly, I'd say start there if you're actually interested in the subject.
However, this Election Commission hearing is not, basically, about deciding substantive rights. It's about the Secretary of State carrying out its statutory duty to put together ballots so the citizens of the state of Indiana can vote. Everything about how this happens is tailored toward a single goal: putting out a bunch of pieces of paper or these days electronic ballot files to be loaded into voting machines, so that on election day, people can cast votes. There is no particularized right of any individual to have a ballot they like looking at.
Now, the content of a ballot does reflect many rights. It reflects the rights of the candidates to appear on the ballot, which is why candidates are so often named parties in contests over the ballot. The right to appear on the ballot is essentially the implementation of the core right, which is the right to run for office, which is meaningless if your name does not appear on a ballot. Not appearing on a ballot, in most cases, is the death-knell of a political campaign. In primaries, the rights of political parties are represented by having their certified candidates listed on the ballot. Political parties themselves are composed of individual voters, like me, and here is where my rights come in. I have the right to vote in my party's primary for the candidate of my choice, and collectively, my fellow party members have that right.
Then, there is a right of people in general to have a working democracy. This is generally not sufficient to confer standing in a court of law, but is sufficient for appearing before an administrative body to state an opinion.
Here's another major distinction. A judge has an absolute obligation to be impartial, not to reach an opinion beforehand, only to make a decision based on evidence of record admitted based on what parties have submitted, stipulated, or otherwise put in the record, subject to challenge by any other party.
An administrative agency may very well have already decided to do what it is going to do. It has no obligation to be impartial. It has the obligation of carrying out the law, whether that involves sending out excavation equipment to drain a swamp, sending out guys with guns to stop someone from draining a swamp because it is now protected wetlands, or otherwise doing the business of the state. While hearings may have the trappings of court proceedings, in effect, anything that goes on in these hearings is a public comment period, not a trial. The administrative agency has the job of doing something, in this case, putting together a ballot and putting it in front of the snoots of the voters on election day. Not putting that ballot below the appropriate snoots on election day is Not An Option.
The impatience of this particular Election Commission is not because it was "biased," and that accusation is not only wrong, but stupid. They have a short deadline to do their jobs. They are entirely open to improving the ballot by removing joke candidates and those clearly ineligible. They are entirely willing to hear arguments on arguable challenges to candidates and to create a record for further review.
However, as the Chair noted repeatedly, clearly understanding the difference between an administrative agency and a court, there are some matters that are only appropriate for review in a court. Unlike many administrative agencies, the Indiana Election Commission conscientiously preserved the record for judicial review in even Orly's case, not that these churlish curs even appreciate that.
Basically, Orly was demanding the Commission break the law and remove Obama from the ballot based on no evidence at all, when the law demands that a party's certified candidates appear on the primary ballot. Even if the pile of garbage she submitted, much of which is completely unintelligible, were "evidence," it would not justify the Commission breaking the law, which is what Orly demanded.
It is the job of the Election Commission to decide issues nearly immediately and take them to completion before a HARD deadline. If they fail to do that and get ballots in front of voters on election day, not getting reappointed is the least of their problems. Around here, torches and pitchforks would not be an unrealistic outcome.
Only a court could go further and, after weighing admissible evidence, go further and do things like enjoin the certification of signature petitions, delaying an election.
Delaying a statutory deadline would be absolute anathema to an Election Commission. By comparison, disrupting things like that is something courts do all the time. The "stay" that Orly constantly demands (not having the slightest clue what a "stay" is and why you would want one) is a perfect example of judiciary power. It is basically a court saying "stop whatever the hell you're doing and wait until we decide." While an executive agency has the power to bulldoze your house and put up a sewage plant, the judiciary lacks that power. However, it has the power to stop the executive from doing that until it decides otherwise.
Here's my conclusion. Orly has been treated with something resembling respect by the judiciary, which has the job of resolving disputes between private parties. None of her "plaintiffs" had standing. Now, she is attempting to meddle in the business of political parties by challenging the process by which they choose their own candidates. Even Republicans are big on political parties having the right to choose their own candidates.
Yesterday, she chose to piss in that bowl of cornflakes publicly, and got what she deserved. Period.
Nobody who had any clue what an administrative agency is or what it does would have done something that stupid, or defended something that stupid, or absurdly insisted on calling an administrative agency a "court." I hope I have explained thoroughly why insisting otherwise is not merely ignorant, but that after it has been explained unanimously by dozens of people, at the very least borders on the malicious.