image That is certainly a question that people here are asking.  What to do, those who supported Bob Vander Plaats won’t be getting the executive order placing a stay on the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision on Iowa’s DOMA law they hoped for.  I, among others, felt this law executive order was likely unconstitutional.  I know that is up for debate, but one thing I think we all can agree on is that it would have been at best a temporary fix.

So what can be done?  None of these ideas are original, but I wanted to share some of them here.

Three things Iowans can do in regards to address the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA in November:

Vote no on retention, the Iowa Constitution allows for each judge from juvenile court judges, to district court judges, appellate court judges to Supreme Court justices to be on the ballot every eight years so citizens can vote on retention.  Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice Michael Streit, and Justice David Baker are all up for retention – you can vote no.

Vote yes on a Constitutional Convention.  This appears on the ballot every ten years.  In a convention the delegates would rewrite or add amendments to our state’s Constitution.  The next General Assembly will determine how delegates are chosen, but they don’t have any say over the Constitution itself, we the people can elect responsible delegates.  The people of Iowa would then vote on each individual change (Section 29, Article III of the Iowa Constitution).  You can learn more at Call The Convention.

Work to help sound conservative candidates get elected to the Iowa House and Iowa Senate.  That is the most important thing in the long-term, and prospects are looking good for the Iowa House and possibly making some good gains in the Iowa Senate (I’m not as optimistic as Iowa Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley).

Things that can be done in the future via the traditional amendment process or at the Convention should it be called:

Deep six the Missouri Plan for selecting judges.  Currently the Iowa Constitution states: “Vacancies in the supreme court and district court shall be filled by appointment by the governor from lists of nominees submitted by the appropriate judicial nominating commission. Three nominees shall be submitted for each supreme court vacancy, and two nominees shall be submitted for each district court vacancy. If the governor fails for thirty days to make the appointment, it shall be made from such nominees by the chief justice of the supreme court,” (Section 15,Article V of the Iowa Constitution). 

In the nominating commissions only half are appointed by the Governor, with half being elected by members of the Iowa State Bar Association, (Section 16, Article V of the Iowa Constitution).  Why in the world should the Bar Association be given that much influence?  It is a better process, I believe, when the Governor can directly appoint and the the Senate confirms.  Get the nominating commissions, along with the Iowa State Bar Association, out of the picture.  Have people who are directly accountable to “We The People” decide.

Retention vote every two (or at the very least, four) years – Supreme Court Justices terms are eight years before they are up for a retention vote.  District Court judges terms are up every six, (Section 17, Article V of the Iowa Constitution).  Their terms should not be any longer than an elected officials.  Having to wait eight years in between retention votes doesn’t help with accountability when a bad decision is made.

Term limits for justices – I think we need term limits across the board.  And looking at Section 17, Article V of the Iowa Constitution, I don’t believe even an amendment since there is not prescribe terms and it states, “Members of all courts shall have such tenure in office as may be fixed by law, but terms of supreme court judges shall be not less than eight years and terms of district court judges shall be not less than six years.”  I could be wrong on that, but it looks like an entry into the Iowa Code would suffice.

An automatic stay for judicial decisions declaring a law unconstitutional – An amendment requiring an automatic stay on a judicial decision for say 60-90 days until the Iowa Legislature acts to respond to the ruling.  Once they do a stay is extended until the Legislature is finished addressing the ruling either via Code or via an Amendment process (which then the stay is extended longer until the people can vote).

Limiting the jurisdiction of the Court over a certain matter – The Legislative branch has the Constitutional authority to do this.  Section 4, Article V of the Iowa Constitution says, “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; and shall have power to issue all writs and process necessary to secure justice to parties, and shall exercise a supervisory and administrative control over all inferior judicial tribunals throughout the state.”  So when the Iowa Supreme Court declared the Iowa Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the Iowa Legislature could have said, “thank you for your opinion, but we are restricting you from having jurisdiction over this matter.”

It would take the right make-up in the Iowa General Assembly to do that.  There are appropriate checks and balances.  The Governor can nominate, the Senate confirms.  The General Assembly passes a law, the Governor can veto it.  The General Assembly can in turn override the veto.  The Judiciary has been operating like it doesn’t have any checks after judges are nominated and confirmed.  That simply isn’t the case, and “We The People” must remind them of what their role is.  It isn’t to make law.

13 comments
  1. Wow!!
    You would do all that just to keep your fellow tax-paying citizens who happen to be gay from having the same rights under the law as you do? I will never understand the hatred and bigotry of those who are against equal rights for everyone (like the U.S. Constitution guarantees).

    1. Marriage is just one issue that the Courts has overstepped on.

      Please show me where in the Constitution it guarantees “group rights.”

      I don’t see the “right to define marriage to whatever you please” in there.

      1. U.S. Declaration of Independence: ….We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. …(no gay exception noted.)

        5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution …nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…(doesn’t say except for gays).

        14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (note, it doesn’t say “unless you are gay”).

        Pledge of Allegiance: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all (nope, no exception for gays here either).

        To take away fundamental rights, the government must have a rational reason to do so. So far, there has been no rational argument against gay marriage other than that that some religious groups claim as a matter of religious belief. (They are allowed to spread their hatred and bigotry at will, and get tax free money to do so.)

        In the Proposition 8 trial, the defense-interveners didn’t even come close to presenting evidence for their views. These are supposedly the cream of the crop lawyers and they couldn’t even find any evidence to support their case. In closing arguments they stated that they didn’t need to present evidence (the judge didn’t seem to care for that view). I don’t know what they think the appellate courts can rely on if there is no evidence to support the ban on marriage equality.

        Bottom line: the fundamental rights of any group should NEVER be put up to a popular vote. If this were the case, blacks would still be slaves, and women would still be property and not allowed to vote or even speak up in public.

      2. “life, liberty, and property” – doesn’t mean you can change the definition of marriage. Please, nobody is saying legally you can’t have a relationship with whomever you like. A homosexual’s liberty is not being denied. They are free to marry somebody of the opposite sex, just like anyone else.

        Maybe those who want to have multiple wives liberty is being denied. Or perhaps somebody who wants to marry their dog. I know I’m sure NAMBLA folks think their liberty is being denied as well.

      3. “Life, liberty, and property” is NOT the wording of the declaration of independence, no matter how much conservatives may want it to be. It’s rather irrelevant, as the declaration of independence is not the constitution. The constitution says that the states regulate marriage, and that no government in the united states can create separate classes of people before the law unless it at least has some rational basis (a legitimate state interest that is logically served by such a distinction) to do so. Committed, monogamous, gay couples CAN get married under the laws of at least some states, they support each other emotionally and financially, they maintain a common household, they engage in a conjugal relationship, and they often raise children together. If you cannot see that they are similarly situated to heterosexual couples, then you only prove how blinded you are by prejudice. And if the state wants to single gay couples and only gay couples out and withhold from them the protections of the law, it must show that doing so is at least rationally related to the states purposes in sanctioning marriages. The state has been unable to do so, which is why Section 3 of DOMA was recently invalidated by a Federal District judge, and why Prop 8 and other state-level same-sex marriage bans will likely fall.

      4. I didn’t say that it was, I was quoting one of the commentors it’s “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

        I don’t think keeping the definition of marriage the way its been since our founding is establishing a separate class of people. It’s homosexuals who want to be special, and have special rights. I would argue that the state does have an interest in upholding the traditional family as it impacts social welfare.

      5. Marriage (the government kind, not the church kind like the sacrament of Matrimony in the Catholic Church) exists to formally establish kinship. Federal, state and local laws further define the benefits and responsibilities of what that kinship means in a variety of settings and circumstances. For example, children are provided various protections within the marriage/family unit, and spouses have assumed rights with regard to property ownership, inheritance, insurance or retirement benefits, shared responsibility for taxes and debts, etc, etc.

        I don’t see marriage equality as “redefining marriage.” I see it as recognizing that that everyone has the right to decide who (if anyone) they want to declare their everlasting love and become a family. It’s an expansion of the marriage laws more in line with understanding that homosexuals are people that have different characteristics than the majority of the population. There is no logical reason to discriminate against them and prevent them from forming loving, secure families.

        Based on your responses, you obviously do not think that romantic love has any place in marriage. What if in high school, you met a closeted lesbian that you thought was personable, attractive, smart etc., and sought to form a relationship with her. Perhaps she was brought up in an environment that being gay was wrong and detestable, so hid her true nature from everyone, including you. Presume you two got married. Would you want to be part of a marriage where your partner had absolutely no romantic interest in you? That she should be forced to “settle” because that would be the only way she thought she could have a family of her own? That she was romantically attracted to others outside of your marriage? I assert that both of you would suffer. She, because she is not allowed to form a family with the person she loves, and you, because the marriage is empty of any true bond.

        Yes, the overwhelming proportion of people are heterosexual. That doesn’t mean the homosexuals should be deprived of most of life’s joys just because they are different. And before you say it, being gay is a part of who you are – your essense, it is not a choice or a behavior.

        The issue of potential marriage with minors and animals are often brought up by the anti marriage equality folks. They fail to recognize that marriage is a contract and requires consent. Minors and animals can’t give consent. This is a silly strawman argument.

        I’m not particularly against polygamy if all parties truly want that. However, the history of polygamy indicates that it is usually exploitative and coersive of women and girls to their extreme detriment. They appear to be treated as chattel or property as in olden times. That is not consistent with our values today that cherish everyone.

        I thinks that’s it for me.

  2. Shane, would you want a gay man marrying your daughter? That wouldn’t be right and it wouldn’t strengthen marriage as a whole. All a gay couple wants is that their relationship be considered as legitimate as anyone else’s. That’s all. And allowing them to be married won’t negatively affect anyone’s marriage. Seriously, what negative impact have we seen in Iowa? And I think the courts are starting to realize this and make the right rulings. Read the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling. It makes a lot of sense.

  3. A citzens grand jury is badly needed to review all judicial decisions in our state. This grand jury would endure the scrutiny of the electorate on a revolving basis. The limited function of this grand jury would review the constitutionality of all decisions on a regular basis. The national Jail4judges.org has the perfect answer. This initiative was on the SD ballot in 2006 with wide ranging popular support.
    We all know some IA judges are ruling contrary to IA Code and exhibiting wide ranging prejudice against everyday common citizens. So true this is when we see elderly Iowans appointed with guardians and guardian ad litems as the elderly have their estates taken away from the management of duly appointed family members and with these same family members barred from any rights with their elderly loved one. This is taking place in Iowa! Take the estate and incarcerate all on the whims of judges in Iowa.

  4. Runaway judiciary? I really hope you have more going for that assertion than a ruling allowing more people to be legally wed.

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