Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.
House GOP leader open to impeaching Supreme Court justices
If the people of Iowa demand that the remaining four justices on the state Supreme Court be impeached, Speaker-elect Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) said Wednesday he would not stand in the way.
Last month, Iowans voted to oust three state Supreme Court justices who were up for a retention vote due to the 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. The other four justices were not on the ballot.
During an interview with Christian radio host Steve Deace, Paulsen said the lesson of the judicial retention election is that Iowans want a voice in the definition of marriage, and also that they expect the legislature “to live up to its constitutional responsibility and ensure we’re not rolling over any time the courts want to boss us around.” But just because Iowans decided to remove the judges doesn’t necessarily mean they want the legislature to step in and remove the rest.
“But maybe they do,” Paulsen said. “I don’t know. We’ll have to see.”
Ultimately, it’s up to the people, Paulsen said. Deace then pressed him on the issue, asking, “If you had the sense that this is what Iowans wanted out of their representative government, this would not be something you would stand in the way of. Is that what you’re saying?”
Paulsen responded: “The title of state representative has to stand for something.”
If Iowans want the judges impeached, “they need to contact us,” Paulsen said.
“It does start in the House and requires a simple majority to impeach,” he said. “Then, of course, it goes over to the Senate where a conviction could or couldn’t occur.”
According to the Iowa Constitution, a justice can be impeached “for any misdemeanor or malfeasance in office.” If the House passes articles of impeachment, a trial will be held in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is needed for a judge to be removed. Democrats currently hold a 26-23 advantage in the Senate, with one seat left vacant by the resignation of Lt.-Gov.-elect Kim Reynolds.
Carolyn Jenison, executive director of the LGBT-rights organization One Iowa, called Paulsen’s statements “reckless.”
“Iowans from all walks of life rely on our courts to give them a fair shake in our judicial system,” Jenison said. “Our judges must be free to make their decisions on the merits of the law, without fear of political retribution from those who seek to impose their personal beliefs on others. It is reckless for Speaker-elect Paulsen to suggest that the legislature should take the extraordinary step of impeachment simply because he disagrees with a particular ruling.”
Bob Vander Plaats, a former gubernatorial hopeful that led the campaign to oust the judges, has publicly called for the remaining four justices to resign. Paulsen would not take a position on the suggestion, saying that whether or not the judges should resign is ultimately “something [the four justices] will have to figure out.”