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Iowa GOP lawmakers target Supreme Court justice pay over gay marriage vote

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of conservative lawmakers have proposed cutting the salaries of Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined in a unanimous ruling four years ago that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.

Five Republicans filed an amendment to the state House’s judicial branch budget Tuesday that would reduce the salaries of the remaining four justices who joined in the 2009 ruling from about $163,000 annually to $25,000. That’s the pay of legislators, who also receive money for expenses.

Republican Rep. Larry Sheets of Moulton, who is joining four other lawmakers in the effort, acknowledged it’s a longshot, but he said it’s important to draw attention to the ruling.

Sheets said the justices “overstepped their constitutional boundaries” in making a decision that should have been left up to the Legislature. If the justices are going to behave like legislators, they ought to receive lawmakers’ pay, he said.

“The important thing (we’re) trying to do is make a statement that there needs to be separation of powers,” Sheets said.

Gay marriage has been legal in Iowa since the unanimous 2009 state Supreme Court ruling, which found a law limiting marriage to between men and women violated Iowa’s constitution. The measure applies to Chief Justice Mark S. Cady and Justices David S. Wiggins, Daryl L. Hecht and Brent R. Appel, all of whom joined in the decision.

Voters removed three other justices in a 2010 retention election.

Sheets acknowledged the proposal is a longshot that wouldn’t clear the Senate.

Besides having to pass the Legislature, the amendment wouldn’t implement the pay cut until voters approved a constitutional amendment stating that marriage was between a man and a woman. It would take approval of two legislative assemblies elected in consecutive elections before a measure could be referred to voters.

If approved, justices could choose to resign or take a pay cut.

Sen. Robb Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, called the proposal “ridiculous.”

“It reflects a lack of basic understanding about our system of government,” said Hogg, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It is almost certainly unconstitutional to pay different justices different salaries based on when they were appointed to the bench.”

Steve Davies, a spokesman for the Iowa Judicial Branch, declined to comment.

Rep. Dwayne Alons, R-Hull, submitted the amendment.

Last month, Alons introduced a joint resolution signed by 34 other House Republicans proposing a change in the Iowa Constitution to ban gay marriage. It did not survive a self-imposed Legislative deadline.

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14 more reader comments:

  1. sad sad people, because they did not get what they want, others have to suffer cause of what they did to make them lose

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:45pm
  2. like the actual government will let the get away with it

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:46pm
  3. how can people, they people WE PAY to be servants of the laws of this land, how can they have so much malice in their intentions? Is there really nothing better for them to spend time and energy on… Did they fix education, homelessness and unemployment and now they have the ime in the world to be petty? NO, they didnt. If I lived in Iowa, Id be LIVID.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:48pm
  4. Is there no end to what these underhanded scum will pull???

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:53pm
  5. All because they don’t think their way! Who is the communist again??

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:54pm
  6. It’s fascinating how people against equality are constantly trying to find round-about ways to attack gays and their allies…

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:55pm
  7. Let’s drop the pay for those GOP lawmakers too

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:58pm
  8. if they are allowed to get away with this then its no wonder why we are the target for psycho freaks from other countries. because our government is full of idiots and assholes like these GOP petty freaks.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:10pm
  9. more like give out fines for each time they try and deny civil rights and use extortion and lies to push bigotry

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:11pm
  10. GOP payback when they don’t get their way…..childish!

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:12pm
  11. They really don’t like the Court from stopping their abuse of power & ignoring the U.S. Constitution + their own.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:25pm
  12. It has been 4 years, when are these Republicans going to get the fuck over it?

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:58pm
  13. Sour grapes.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 4:25pm
  14. is it just me or do i think all republicans want to tear apart the constitution and run this country they bias and bigoted way they see fit. They say they love the constitution but it seems non of them have ever read it.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 5:15pm