Zoeller has played a key role in state-driven lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act. He’s joined a multi-state challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and another that challenges the EPA’s authority in the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay.
Last year Zoeller wrote a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of a group of state attorneys general that urged the U.S. Supreme Court to allow prayer at government meetings. (The Indiana General Assembly starts its daily sessions with a prayer.)
He was the primary author of briefs submitted by states last year to the U.S. Supreme Court that supported California’s gay marriage ban as well as the federal law, later struck down, defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Last month, he led 11 state attorneys general who filed a brief in a federal appeals court arguing that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would lead to the “tragic deconstruction” of marriage.
Zoeller’s critics say these are political challenges disguised as legal ones.
The accusation makes him bristle.
To the discomfort of some members of the Federalist Society, he praised the EPA for implementing the Clean Water Act of 1972, which forced states to dramatically curb pollution. The New Albany native said it made his beloved Ohio River fishable and swimmable again.
Zoeller emphasized his independence with another story, this one about meeting then-presidential Republican candidate Mitt Romney at a political fund-raiser two years ago.
Romney, on hearing of Zoeller’s reputation for suing the Democratic administration, joked that he wouldn’t be so busy if Romney were elected.
“Oh no,” Zoeller responded. “I’ll sue you, too. You’re federal. I’m state. This has nothing to do with politics.”
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden