Iowa: Senate approves 26-24 bill to require supermajority of state Supreme Court (5/7) to declare laws unconstitutional

A plan discussed here to require the Iowa Supreme Court have a 5/7 supermajority to declare laws unconstitutional cleared the Senate yesterday.

News reports quote the lead author of SF 2282 as claiming the proposal is not targeting the current court but that “It’s just too much power to give to four judges to make fundamental changes in our law.” Proponents also liken it to a legislature overriding a governor’s veto by 2/3rds, however that provision in the is found in the Iowa constitution, not a statute.

As noted before, there are two states with similar supermajority requirements (Nebraska and North Dakota) but those are due to constitutional provisions, not statutes.

SF 2153 now goes to the House.

Iowa: Bill to require supermajority of state Supreme Court (5/7) to declare laws unconstitutional advances

A plan discussed here to require the Iowa Supreme Court have a 5/7 supermajority to declare laws unconstitutional cleared a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday.

News reports quote the lead author of SF 2153 as claiming the proposal is not targeting the current court but that “It’s just too much power to give to four judges to make fundamental changes in our law.”

As noted before, there are two states with similar supermajority requirements (Nebraska and North Dakota) but those are due to constitutional provisions, not statutes.

SF 2153 now goes to the full Senate Judiciary Committee.

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.

 

Iowa: Bills would require supermajority of state Supreme Court (5/7) to declare laws unconstitutional; similar provisions in Nebraska and North Dakota

Iowa’s Constitution provides that “the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction only in cases in chancery, and shall constitute a court for the correction of errors at law, under such restrictions as the general assembly may, by law, prescribe…

Citing this provision, members of the Iowa legislature want to impose a supermajority requirement on the Iowa Supreme Court for at least some of its decisions.

HF 2106 and SF 2153  provide no statute shall be held unconstitutional by a court of this state except by the concurrence of at least five 5 justices of the supreme court of Iowa. The court is made up currently of 7 justices.

There are two state courts of last resort that require supermajorities to strike down laws, but both are because of a constitutional provision, not a mere statute.

North Dakota Supreme Court (4/5): “The supreme court shall consist of five justices…A majority of the supreme court shall be necessary to constitute a quorum or to pronounce a decision, provided that the supreme court shall not declare a legislative enactment unconstitutional unless at least four of the members of the court so decide…” (Art. VI, § 2, 4)

Nebraska Supreme Court (5/7): “The Supreme Court shall consist of seven judges…No legislative act shall be held unconstitutional except by the concurrence of five judges.” (Art. V, § 2)

Iowa: Anger over Supreme Court orders limiting guns in courthouses continues, House member wants to cut Supreme Court salaries down to $25,000 (salary of a legislator), reduce their terms & term limit them

A member of the Iowa House has introduced 3 pieces of legislation targeting the state’s Supreme Court, the latest legislative reaction to orders released by the Supreme Court 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.

All three bills are not pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

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.

Bans on court use of sharia/international law: 19 bills in 14 states; Arkansas enacts, North Dakota rejects as an “insult to our judges”

Efforts to ban state courts from using or referencing foreign/international law in general, and sharia law in particular, continue apace with two legislatures approving versions while a bill in North Dakota was rejected.

Arkansas enacted a ban (HB 1041). An earlier version noted here would have re-declared that marriage in Arkansas was limited to a man and a woman, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision saying the opposite. The amended/enacted HB 1041 provides

A court ruling or decision violates the public policy of this state and is void and unenforceable if the court bases its ruling or decision in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code, or system that does not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision one (1) or more of the following fundamental rights, liberties, and privileges granted under the Arkansas Constitution or the United States Constitution:
(1) The right to due process;
(2) The right to equal protection;
(3) Freedom of religion;
(4) Freedom of speech;
(5) Freedom of the press;
(6) The right to keep and bear arms;
(7) The right to privacy; or
(8) The right to marry, as “marriage” is defined by the Arkansas Constitution, to the extent that the definition of marriage does not conflict with federal law or a holding by the United States Supreme Court.

Meanwhile the Montana legislature approved a version (SB 97) that is currently pending on the governor’s desk that reads in operative part

A court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision violates the public policy of Montana and is void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its ruling or decision on a law, legal code, or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the Montana constitution or the United States constitution, including but not limited to due process, equal protection, freedom of religion, speech, or press, the right to keep and bear arms, and any right of privacy or marriage.

Finally, North Dakota’s House approved HB 1425 in February, but in late March the Senate rejected the proposal. At issue was the situation similar to Arkansas, namely, that the bill would have attempted to re-establish a ban on same-sex marriage. Senators objected to the marriage provision and amended it out, but also worried this was an “insult to our judges” and assumes North Dakota judges would violate the U.S. and North Dakota Constitutions without this bill.

Full list of bills below the fold.

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