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January 18th, 2011

Impeachment Supporters Should Put Up or Shut Up

The handful of State Representatives who are insistent that the four remaining Supreme Court Justices be impeached continue to issue press releases and take to the airwaves to speak out against the court.  While they continue to look for and take every opportunity to criticize the court, they have yet to produce the actual articles of impeachment.

Most recently, Rep. Tom Shaw sent out a press release responding to Chief Justice Cady’s remarks to the general assembly.  Meanwhile, Rep. Kim Pearson spent her Saturday in Council Bluffs speaking at a rally targeted at Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal.

Chief Justice Cady’s speech to the legislature last week did nothing but show the same arrogance that was displayed by the pro-retention campaigns last fall.  Cady’s decision to lecture the legislature about the constitutional roll of the court showed disrespect to the very body that he was addressing.  His wave to the gallery that was filled with gay activists was also out of character for the typical State of the Judiciary address.

Cady should have taken to the rostrum in the House chamber to say that it is important for the court to regain the public’s trust following last year’s retention elections.  Instead, he gave a very political speech, knowing full well that impeachment talk has dominated political discussions since late December, even though it lacks widespread support in the House.  His decision to strike a match while standing next to a powder keg did nothing to rebuild the public’s trust in the with the court.  Instead, he just emboldened its critics like Shaw and Pearson.

Those advocating for impeachment should use Cady’s display of arrogance to solidify support for the rarely used punishment.  It has been nearly a month since Shaw, Pearson, and Glenn Massie began beating the impeachment drum.  During that time, they have talked at length about it, but have yet to move forward with the proposal.  Yesterday, Shaw told TheIowaRepublican.com that he was not sure when the articles of impeachment will be drafted.

It will be nearly impossible for them to gather support for the measure if they don’t have the actual articles of impeachment written.  Producing the actual articles of impeachment is essential if they want to move forward and gain support.

If Shaw’s press release is any indication of the specific charges that will be made against the four remaining justices, then all of the talk about impeachment has been nothing more than a modern form of yellow journalism.  The following is Shaw’s press release.

I was present in the Iowa House chambers on Wednesday morning, January 12th, and listened to the Condition of the Judiciary speech delivered by Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady.  After discussing the financial woes of the Judicial Department, he launched into a tongue-lashing directed at the elected representatives of “We the People” of Iowa, and also at “We the People” themselves.  The purpose of this reprimand was to “educate” us about the independence of the judiciary and his belief that we do not have the right to even question their authority.

What the Chief Justice fails to understand is that “independent” does not mean unaccountable.  Also, “supreme” does not mean that the Judicial Department is supreme over the other two co-equal Departments of Iowa government or the people themselves.

I am one of several State Representatives who are currently drafting Articles of Impeachment against the four remaining Justices of the Iowa Supreme Court.  Three of their colleagues were removed from the bench in the retention election on November 2nd.  The people of Iowa rendered their verdict on the malfeasance of all seven of these judges who attempted to redefine marriage in their Varnum V. Brien decision of 2009.   The opinion, written by Justice Cady, rendered that the definition of Iowa’s law declaring that marriage is between one male and one female, was unconstitutional.  Furthermore, they ordered that same-sex “marriage” licenses must be issued.  They performed the duty of the Legislative Department by creating law and usurped the authority of the Executive Department to carry out the law.  Article III of the Iowa Constitution specifically forbids one department from performing duties of the other departments.  These violations constitute malfeasance and therefore the Justices must be impeached.  It is the duty of the elected representatives of “We the People” to remove these Justices in order to maintain the checks and balances of power in our state government.

The Iowa Constitution specifically states that “all political power is inherent in the people.”  This is in direct contradiction to Chief Justice Cady’s erroneous belief that final authority to determine whether or not a statute is constitutional rests with the Judiciary.  That authority was not granted to the Judicial Department in either the United States or Iowa Constitutions.  Like the authority given to the Executive and Legislative Departments, the Judicial Department’s authority is derived from the Iowa Constitution, which derives its authority from the people.  It cannot grant itself authority that does not exist.  The Iowa Constitution is a legally binding contract between the citizens of Iowa and their government.  The Iowa Supreme Court clearly violated this contract, their sworn obligation to support it, and their sacred duty as servants of the law and the people of Iowa.

They must be impeached.  As representatives of the people, men and women who also swore to support the Constitution, we must take this action lest we join these four judges in their malfeasance.

I agree with Shaw that having an independent court doesn’t mean that that they are accountable to nobody or nothing.  The Justices are accountable to the people.  That is why we have retention elections.  I also agree that the Iowa Supreme Court is not supreme over the other branches of government.

Shaw then states that the people of Iowa convicted all of the justices of a malfeasance when a majority of the electorate voted against the retention of the three justices who were on the ballot.  While the electorate was obviously upset with the courts decision, they were equally upset that Democrat leaders in the legislature road-blocked any attempt to let the people vote on a constitutional amendment.  In many respects, voters of all stripes used the retention votes to voice their displeasure for many reasons.  Saying that the people deemed all the justices guilty of a malfeasance is a stretch of Shaw’s imagination.

As I’ve written a number of times, the court can rule a law void if it determines that the law passed by the legislature is unconstitutional.  That is exactly what the court did in the Varnum case.  Shaw then contends that the court then ordered that same-sex marriage licenses be issued.  That simply is not true.  Attorney General Tom Miller is the one who ordered the county recorders to issue the licenses.  Claiming that the court did this undermines the entire impeachment argument.

If the court had actually legislated from the been or forced the county recorders to issue licenses then I would agree that they are guilty of usurping the powers of another branch of government, which would be a great example of malfeasance.  Shaw and others seem too eager to forget that the previous legislature and Governor Culver are culpable for what transpired after the court issued its ruling.  While it is easy to place blame on the Court for it’s ruling Culver and the Democratic-controlled legislature were more than willing not to challenge the court’s decision.

I’m interested in seeing the actual articles of impeachment, but if they are serious about bring these charges, then they must clearly find in Varnum, or any other case for that matter, concrete evidence that the court is guilty of that which they claim.  If a solid case can be made, it deserves serious consideration.  However if the case for impeachment is similar to Shaw’s press release, then they should instead focus on passing a marriage amendment and legislation that can help restore traditional marriage in Iowa.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and TheIowaRepublican.com as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, TheIowaRepublcian.com. Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.




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