He was mum on the subject, but Iowa Governor-Elect Terry Branstad now says he is against the move to impeach the remaining Iowa Supreme Court justices (Chief Justice Mark S. Cady, David S. Wiggins, Brent R. Appel and David L. Baker) after three were ousted by Iowa voters in November.
Gov.-elect Terry Branstad said Monday he does not believe the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 same-sex marriage decision rises to the level of malfeasance prescribed in the state Constitution that would warrant the Iowa House to consider impeaching the remaining four justices.
“I don’t think that impeachment is the appropriate remedy,” Branstad said in an interview…
… Branstad said he disagreed with the court’s marriage ruling but he also disagrees with a band of House Republicans who have indicated they are drafting articles of impeachment against Justices Brent Appel, Mark Cady, Daryl Hecht and David Wiggins. Three other members of court – Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit – ended their terms Dec. 31 after they lost their retention votes in the Nov. 2 general election.
Branstad said he believes the unanimous court “over-reached” when the justices struck down as unconstitutional the Defense of Marriage Act he signed in 1998 that defined marriage in Iowa as only between one man and one woman. The 7-0 ruling in April 2009 had the effect of legalizing civil marriages between couples of the same gender.
“I think if you look and read the Constitution, which I have, I think it’s pretty obvious. The Constitution says what the grounds for impeachment are. My reading is it’s not there,” Branstad said. “There’s a difference between malfeasance and over-reaching, I think. I really think that if people look at the Constitution, I think the remedy is that when they come up for retention that people have a chance to vote them out. I think that’s the appropriate remedy. I don’t think that impeachment is the appropriate remedy.”
I can’t say I agree on his definition of malfeasance, but I am encouraged to see that he has now said publically that a retention vote is a proper remedy. His position on impeachment doesn’t surprise me either as he and I likely view the weight of judicial review differently as during the campaign he said of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling (I believe he was referring to Roe v. Wade) that it is now “the law of the land.”
I do believe this conservation is worth the time, but I also don’t list it as my top priority in terms of judicial reform. One reason is that we do have the retention vote for those up in 2012, and then there is work that needs to be done regarding the selection process which will, if successful, produce long-term change.
Regardless if the impeachment process does go forward (and it won’t without tremendous grassroots support) what Governor Branstad thinks carries no more weight than any other citizen since he’ll have nothing to do with the process. I would hope that beyond this interview that he would not become directly involved and let the House members sort this out with the feedback they are receiving from their constituents.