Friday, April 22, 2011

Effort to Impeach Iowa Supreme Court Justices

“I don't even know which trick I ought to try”

Gavel to Gavel is reporting that impeachment resolutions have been filed in the Iowa House to try to remove the remaining  four Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined the unanimous May 2009 decision holding that the state constitution required an end to the state’s exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage.  The other three justices who had joined that decision were unseated in a retention election in November 2010 after a campaign greatly supported by the National Organization for Marriage, a group dedicated to perpetuating the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage.

Now, several Republican legislators have filed resolutions accusing the justices of exceeding their lawful authority, the Iowa Republican reports.  The charge, in my view, borders on laughable.  The Iowa Supreme Court’s opinion in Varnum v. Brien carefully details the state’s longstanding constitutional tradition of protecting equality, liberty, and fundamental rights, and governmental justifications for denying lesbigay people the right to marry the person they love are, at best, phenomenally weak.

Happily, this now appears to be political grandstanding by several freshman Republican legislators.  Lezgetreal reports that the Iowa House Speaker has stated that he does not expect the resolution (which goes first to the House Judiciary Committee) to be debated on the House floor.

The justices of the Iowa Supreme Court hardly performed a “good deed” in ruling in favor of Iowan’s right to marry – they upheld their judicial duty to uphold the law including the state constitution impartially – but the punishment visited upon the ousted justices was real and ominous, though misplaced.  It will be a relief once the current punitive impeachment efforts are definitively put to rest.

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