Ever since the Iowa Supreme Court issued its ruling on gay marriage in April, Bob Vander Plaats has advocated that Governor Culver should issue an executive order which would impose a stay on gay marriages in Iowa until the Iowa legislature addresses the issue. He has since abandoned hope that Governor Culver would do such a thing, but has vowed to do it himself if elected.
At a recent Vander Plaats event that I attended a few weeks ago, I was surprised to hear Vander Plaats tell the audience, “I’ll be the Governor who signs the executive order that will let you vote on marriage.” The crowd loved it, but my understanding of Iowa law doesn’t give the Governor the power to put a constitutional amendment to the people through an executive order.
Some in the media have belittled Vander Plaats for his proposal. Instead of taking that route, I thought I would instead propose a number of questions that I feel Vander Plaats needs to answer in regards to his pledge to sign an executive order to stay gay marriages in the state.
I’ve made a point to attend Vander Plaats’ events, press conferences, and I even spent a day on the road with him. I personally think he is a much better candidate than he was in 2002 and 2006. With his previous experience in running for statewide office, the endorsement and aide of the winner of the Iowa caucuses, and an issue that many are passionate about, Vander Plaats could be considered the frontrunner in the race.
However, if Vander Plaats is going to be successful, I think he is going to have to give convincing answers to the following questions. But even more importantly, his supporters are going to have to be able to give convincing reasons as to why his proposed course of action is the most viable when they are out soliciting other potential supporters.
As many of you know, I’m a social and fiscal conservative. I take the platform that our party activists write seriously. I’ve chaired the platform committee at the county, congressional district, and state level. With that being the case, one would think that I should be a strong advocate for what Vander Plaats is proposing, but I’m skeptic al and not convinced his proposal does anything but complicate the push for a constitutional amendment.
This afternoon, Vander Plaats is scheduled to once again be on WHO Radio’s Deace in the Afternoon program. I’m confident that this subject will be discussed at length. So, in an effort to understand what Vander Plaats is really advocating, I submit the following questions that I feel he needs to be able to answer if he expects people, especially the media, to take his proposal seriously.
1. How is the executive order you are proposing different than Vilsack’s order (which was found to be a violation of the separation of powers by infringing on the legislative branch)?
2. Do you anticipate a legal challenge to your proposed executive order?
3. What would you do if the Supreme Court ruled that your executive order was an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers (i.e. that you had attempted to commandeer powers that rightly belong to the legislative and/or judicial branch)?
4. Some of your statements in the media have indicated that you believe this executive order will give the people the right to vote on the issue of gay marriage. Don’t we still have to go through the amendment process and initiate a marriage amendment either through the legislature or through a public vote for a constitutional convention?
5. If you are successful in enforcing your executive order, do you anticipate that future governors will have wider latitude to use executive order in ways that have not historically been allowed or utilized in Iowa?
6. Do you want to set a precedent that would give future liberal governors that expanded power?
7. Wouldn’t that make for a very unsettled rule of law if each governor can decide whether or not to enforce court orders from election cycle to election cycle?
8. Why do you support/not support a constitutional convention?
9. How do you feel about using a constitutional convention as an opportunity to re-write the section of the Iowa constitution having to do with judicial power and limit constitutional the power of the courts in that way?
10. Certain grassroots activists in the state have said that the executive branch can do what you propose because the executive branch “has the guns.” What do you think this means, and are you prepared to use the force of the National Guard to enforce your executive order?
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