Three Iowa Republican state representatives are drafting legislation they hope will lead to impeaching four remaining state Supreme Court justices who struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, while a group of attorney’s file suit to keep three other justices on the bench.
Last month, voters ousted three state Supreme Court justices who joined in the unanimous 2009 ruling.
Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit lost their retention vote on Nov. 2 after various group’s launched campaigns against them for ruling that Iowa’s law banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Their terms officially expire on Dec. 31.
Now, lawmakers Tom Shaw (R-Laurens), Glen Massie (R-Des Moines) and Kim Pearson (R-Pleasant Hill) are drafting articles of impeachment to try to remove the other four justices.
While it would take just a majority vote in the Republican-led state legislature to approve impeachment, a required two-thirds vote in the Democratic-controlled state Senate is considered unlikely.
Meanwhile, a group of attorneys believe the Nov. 2 retention vote that ousted justices Ternus, Baker and Streit was illegal, and have filed a lawsuit to keep the justices from being tossed off the bench.
The attorneys — Thomas W. George, John P. Roehrick and Carlton Salmons — argue that the Iowa Constitution mandates the votes for judges be “on a separate ballot.”
The ballot used Nov. 2 included the names of the justices standing for retention on the back of a single sheet, “combined with other elections, nonpartisan offices, Constitutional questions and public measures,” the lawsuit says.
The attorneys are asking for a temporary judicial order that would prevent the three justices from leaving the Supreme Court when their terms end on Dec. 31. They are calling for the justices to remain in office until a new vote can take place on legal ballots.