Iowa GOP Tries To Impeach State Supreme Court Over Marriage Equality

After the Religious Right’s successful campaign, with massive funding from Newt Gingrich, to remove three state Supreme Court justices in the 2010 elections who backed marriage equality, now the Iowa GOP is pushing for the impeachment of the remaining justices. Bob Vander Plaats, the anti-gay activist who led the drive to remove the Justices and heads The Family Leader, has previously called for the resignation of the entire Supreme Court and advocated for their removal over the marriage equality ruling in Varnum v. Brien. He is also building ties with likely presidential candidates as Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Herman Cain have either addressed or plan to speak during The Family Leader’s “presidential lecture series.”

Despite the heightened activism of the state’s social conservatives, Lynda Waddington of the Iowa Independent reports that the impeachment resolution faces an uphill battle:

Iowa House Republicans drew an immediate negative reaction late Thursday when they filed four articles of impeachment, one for each remaining member of the Iowa Supreme Court that participated in an April 2009 decision that struck down a legislative ban on same-sex marriage as a violation of the state’s equal protection clause.

The four House resolutions target Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady (HR 48) and Justices Brent Appel (HR 47), Daryl Hecht (HR 49) and David Wiggins (HR 50) for “malfeasance in office” specifically for their ruling in the Varnum v. Brien case, saying that each justice “exercis[ed] functions properly belonging to the legislative and executive departments.” …

The articles of impeachment drafted and filed by the five legislators were also immediately attacked by Justice Not Politics, a nonpartisan group that formed in advance of the 2010 retention election in hopes of bolstering support for the three justices on the November ballot and to stress the non-political nature of the Iowa Judicial Branch.



Opposition to retention was led by Bob Vander Plaats, who formed Iowa for Freedom following an unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial primary bid. The ouster movement was well financed by out-of-state anti-gay interest groups. Currently, Vander Plaats is employed as head of The Family Leader organization, which has traveled the state in hopes of “building on the momentum” of the November ousters.

The three ousted justices were replaced by Gov. Terry Branstad in February, following a winnowing of candidates by the State Judicial Nominating Commission.

Although Republicans hold a majority in the Iowa House, it remains doubtful that the articles of impeachment will live beyond their referral to the Judiciary Committee.