Iowa: Senate bills would force courts to accept guns in courthouses; similar bills already filed in House

As I mentioned here the Iowa Supreme Court issued orders last year regarding a new law that expanded where guns could be carried first discussed here. The orders limited courthouse carrying of firearms, much to the anger of some legislators. A series of House bills were filed targeting the courts on this issue, now it is the Senate’s turn.

SF 2044 provides if state supreme court or local court prohibits carrying of firearms into courthouses, courts are to pay rent and provide armed security to be paid for by reducing judge’s salaries.

SF 2052 provides people may carry a firearm into a courthouse with a handgun permit.

SF 2104 provides no supreme court or judicial branch order may prohibit a person from carrying a firearm into a courthouse.


Pennsylvania: House member circulating plan to impeach state supreme court for gerrymandering decision; latest in 13-year national trend to threaten impeachment for judicial rulings

The latest in a decade-long trend of threatening judges with impeachment for their decisions has now appeared in Pennsylvania. Recently 5 members of that state’s Supreme Court found the state’s congressional districts unconstitutional under the state’s constitution.

The court ordered the legislature and governor to come up with a new map or the court would devise its own.

In response, a member of the House is now circulating draft impeachment articles against the 5 justices for co-sponsorship. In the supporting memo, the lead sponsor claims.

This Order overrides the express legislative and executive authority, found in Article IV, Section 15 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, concerning the Governor’s veto authority and the General Assembly’s subsequent authority to override such veto. Article IV, Section 15 clearly lays out the path a bill must take to become law.

The five Justices who signed this order that blatantly and clearly contradicts the plain language of the Pennsylvania Constitution, engaged in misbehavior in office.

Wherefore, each is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office and disqualification to hold any office or trust or profit under this Commonwealth. I would ask you to please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

This is the latest in a decade or more of similar efforts that started around 2004 and peaked in 2011/2012 with a record number of such efforts (detailed here and here) when 14 bills in 7 states sought the impeachment of numerous judges, including the entire Superior Court of New Hampshire.

Washington: bills would require Administrative Office of the Courts assist in developing fiscal impact notes for WA Supreme Court decisions

The ongoing issue of K-12 funding in Washington, as well as the corresponding lawsuits and determinations of the state’s supreme court in this area, once again appears to be coming to the fore in the legislature.

HB 2636 and SB 6405 would require the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts working with the executive branch’s Office of Financial Management develop fiscal impact notes for decisions with an impact of over $500,000 to either state/local government or individual people or businesses.

Both bills are currently pending in committee.

Oklahoma: House bill would make papers/documents of District Court judges subject to Oklahoma Open Records Act

Oklahoma’s Open Records Act defines “records” for purposes of the act and generally requires such records of any “public body” be open to the public. There is an explicit exemption for judges, however, from the definition of “public body” except as to public funds.

Except for the records required by Section 24A.4 of this title [related to expenditure of public funds], “public body” does not mean judges, justices, the Council on Judicial Complaints, the Legislature, or legislators

At least one member of the House, however, wants to release to the public the documents of District Court judges in the state. Under HB 2867 as flied.

  1. The definition of “public body” would now include “district court judge”
  2. The general exemption of records of “judges” would no longer include district court judges.

HB 2867 has been prefiled for the 2018 session.

Ohio: Senate approves resolution directing Ohio Supreme Court justice show cause before the legislature why he should not be removed from office

A plan to remove-by-address Ohio Supreme Court William O’Neill was filed earlier this week (news reports here and here) approved by the Senate 25-8 yesterday.

HCR 17 and SCR 20 as filed invoke the legislature’s power to remove from office a judge if 2/3rds of the House and Senate agree (Art. IV, Sec. 17).

Judges may be removed from office, by concurrent resolution of both houses of the general assembly, if two-thirds of the members, elected to each house, concur therein; but, no such removal shall be made, except upon complaint, the substance of which shall be entered on the journal, nor, until the party charged shall have had notice thereof, and an opportunity to be heard.

This is a separate from the power to impeach found elsewhere in the state constitution (Art. II, Sec. 23)

HCR 17/SCR 20 claim O’Neill has violated the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct by running for governor and announcing positions on a host of policy issues but declining to resign from the Supreme Court.

Justice O’Neill has responded that he will resign from the court on Jan. 26 and he looks forward to delivering lawmakers “a Douglas MacArthur-level farewell address.”

Iowa: After state’s chief justice issues orders limiting carrying of guns into courthouses, state senator introduces plan to dock judicial pay down to as low as $25,000

Last year Iowa enacted a law allowing expanded carrying of firearms into “public buildings” and the question arose what this meant for courthouses and courtrooms. Chief Justice Mark Cady in June 2017 issued an order in June banning courthouse carry and later following up in December 2017 with another order that narrowed the June order but that still left the decision ultimately up to the local Chief Judge.

In response, at least one member of the Iowa Senate is looking at the possibility of reducing judicial salaries.

SF 2044 as filed provides that if the supreme court or local court issues a no-carry-in-a-courthouse order

  1. The local court must pay a rent of $2 per square foot per month to the county for the area of a courthouse used by the court.
  2. The judicial branch would have to provide armed security in the courthouse. Payment for the armed security would come from the Chief Judge’s salary on a dollar-for-dollar basis until the Chief Judge’s salary hit $25,000.

SF 2044 has been filed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Virginia: Senate bill could open courthouses to carrying of firearms; latest in national trend

I’ve written on this blog and elsewhere (such as here) about the ongoing press in state legislatures to opening courthouses to the carrying of firearms. Now Virginia’s legislature looks to enter this area.

Current law generally prohibits courthouses carry. SB 338 as filed would provide a major exemption

However, nothing in this section shall prohibit a person who may lawfully possess a firearm or ammunition for a firearm from possessing in or transporting into any area within a courthouse that is being used outside of the courthouse’s normal hours of operation exclusively for purposes other than judicial proceedings a firearm or ammunition for a firearm.

As the official impact statement indicates “Essentially, the proposal would narrow the number of individuals who may be prosecuted for possessing or transporting a firearm into a courthouse.”

SB 338 has been filed in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.