Effort to cut Iowa Supreme Court justice pay over gay marriage vote withdrawn


DES MOINES, Iowa — A proposal to cut the salaries of four state Supreme Court justices who joined in a unanimous ruling four years ago that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa, was withdrawn on Thursday and no vote was taken on the measure.

Last month, five Republicans filed an amendment to the state House’s judicial branch budget that would reduce the salaries of the remaining justices who joined in the 2009 ruling from about $163,000 annually to $25,000.

GOP Rep. Larry Sheets of Moulton, said the justices “overstepped their constitutional boundaries” in making a decision that he said 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.

Amendment sponsor Dwayne Alons (R-Hull) described it as a check against judicial overreach.

“We are standing on the sideline allowing the rule of law to be basically ignored, and we’re allowing an oligarchy type of situation to rule and reign in this state,” he said.

After describing and defending the amendment, though, the lawmakers withdrew it and no vote was taken, reported the Des Moines Register.

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Rep. Chip Baltimore (R-Boone), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called it “extraordinarily poor public policy to attempt to tie different compensation levels to different individuals in the judicial branch based upon a decision that they’ve made.”

He said he was prepared to speak against the amendment and believed it would’ve received only “a handful” of votes.

Sen. Robb Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the proposal “ridiculous,” and said “it reflects a lack of basic understanding about our system of government.”

Sheets acknowledged the proposal wouldn’t clear the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Voters removed three other justices who voted in that decision in a 2010 retention election.

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