Resolutions filed to impeach 4 Iowa Supreme Court justices for same sex marriage decision

I mentioned just yesterday the record-setting number of efforts to impeach or remove judges from office this year (click here). Now, there are more.

The threats to impeach 4 Iowa Supreme Court justices for their same-sex marriage decision (Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W.2d 862 (Iowa 2009)) is now a partial reality. Late yesterday HR 47, HR 48, HR 49, and HR 50 were filed against (in order) Justice Brent Appel, Chief Justice Mark Cady, Justice Daryl Hecht, and Justice David Wiggins. (The other three justices who ruled on the case were voted out of office in November 2010.)

The causes for impeachment are five-fold and argue each justice:

  1. improperly assumed the function and role of an elected legislator by ordering that the language in Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman must be stricken from the statute as enacted by the legislative department and approved by the governor of the executive department in 1998.
  2. knowingly and intentionally usurped the proper function delegated solely and exclusively to the legislative department of declaring public policy, through his judicial declaration of a new public policy contrary to long-standing public policy acknowledged by society and 4stablished in Iowa Code section 595.2, subsection 1.
  3. improperly required the executive department to issue marriage licenses to parties of the same sex in direct contravention of Iowa Code section 595.2.
  4. created a constitutional crisis regarding the enforcement of the Varnum ruling by allowing different interpretations of the definition of marriage to exist indefinitely within the separate departments of government, leaving the people with no immediate remedy to address this crisis
  5. created a constitutional imbalance and confusion within the State of Iowa as to the proper constitutional function of each department, thus undermining the integrity of the tripartite separation of powers among the departments and creating social disorder and unrest.

The state’s constitution provides justices and others “shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor or malfeasance in office” with a simple majority required for impeachment. Conviction in the Senate, however, would require a two-thirds vote.

The resolutions now go before the House Judiciary committee.

Update: In a statement, one of the authors of the impeachment resolutions states “Clearly, by changing the simple meaning of the word ‘marriage’, and attempting to legislate, the remaining four judges committed malfeasance in office by greatly exceeding the scope of their lawful authority. Therefore, if the moral integrity of each individual member of the Iowa Legislature, and the institution as a whole, are to be preserved, these judges must be impeached and removed permanently from the bench.”

Update 2: As quickly as this started, the impeachment effort may have ended. Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen has released a statement this morning saying “While I agree with much of the reasoning behind the impeachment resolutions, I disagree with this remedy. I do not expect it to be debated on the floor of the House, and if it is, I will vote no.”