Articles of impeachment against four justices

Five Republicans in the Iowa House filed resolutions yesterday, outling articles of impeachment against four justices on the Iowa Supreme Court.  Here’s the Radio Iowa story.

Here’s the text of one of the resolutions — the one that would apply to Mark Cady, the author of the Varnum v Brien decision, who is now chief justice of the court:



A Resolution impeaching Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark S. Cady for malfeasance in office.

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, That Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark S. Cady is impeached for malfeasance in office, and that the following  article of impeachment be exhibited and presented to the Senate:  That Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark S. Cady in violation of his constitutional oath undertaken before taking office to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Iowa, has committed malfeasance in office through his action to sanction marriage between persons of the same sex in the Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W.2d 862 (Iowa 2009), ruling issued on April 3, 2009, by the following conduct: 

ARTICLE I By unconstitutionally exercising functions properly belonging to the legislative and executive departments as follows: (1) By his action in the Varnum case, Chief Justice Cady improperly assumed the function and role of an elected legislator by ordering that the language in Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman must be stricken from the statute as enacted by the legislative department and approved by the governor of the executive department in 1998. (2) By his action in the Varnum case, Chief Justice Cady knowingly and intentionally usurped the proper function delegated solely and exclusively to the legislative department of declaring public policy, through his judicial declaration of a new public policy contrary to long-standing public policy acknowledged by society and established in Iowa Code section 595.2, subsection 1. (3) By his action in the Varnum case, Chief Justice Cady has improperly required the executive department to issue marriage licenses to parties of the same sex in direct contravention of Iowa Code section 595.2. (4) By his action in the Varnum case, Chief Justice Cady has created a constitutional crisis regarding the enforcement of the Varnum ruling by allowing different interpretations of the definition of marriage to exist indefinitely within the separate departments of government, leaving the people with no immediate remedy to address this crisis. (5) By his action in the Varnum case, Chief Justice Cady has created a constitutional imbalance and confusion within the State of Iowa as to the proper constitutional function of each department, thus undermining the integrity of the tripartite separation of powers among the departments and creating social disorder and unrest. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE, That the conduct of Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark S. Cady, in committing malfeasance in office, warrants impeachment, trial by the Senate, and removal and disqualification from any office of honor, trust, or profit under the state pursuant to the procedures set out in Iowa Code chapter 68. 

Late last night, the top Democrat in the Iowa House (who is an attorney) issued the following:


“I issue the following challenge to Speaker Paulsen and Majority Leader Upmeyer on the proposed impeachment of the remaining Supreme Court Justices…either publicly condemn your own Republican members as well as members of the Republican Party for offering this outrageous, extremist proposal…or allow a full and open impeachment proceeding for all Iowans to consider knowing House Democrats will use every available procedural tool to shut down the Iowa House and defeat this right-wing effort.

I suspect, however that the House Republican Leadership will do neither and instead remain cowardly silent.  If that is true, then let it be clear to all Republicans where the House Republican Leadership truly stands on this issue.”

 This morning, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (who is a lawyer)  issued a statement:

Paulsen Issues Statement on Impeachment Resolutions

(DES MOINES) – House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) issued the following statement regarding the impeachment resolutions which were recently filed:

“While I agree with much of the reasoning behind the impeachment resolutions, I disagree with this remedy.  I do not expect it to be debated on the floor of the House and if it is, I will vote no.

“House Republicans remain focused on reducing government spending and lowering taxes for Iowa families and small businesses.”

In January, House Judiciary Committee chairman Richard Anderson, a Republican from Clarinda who is a lawyer, said there wasn’t enough support among House Republicans to advance articles of impeachment.

In mid-December, Representative Tom Shaw (R-Laurens) and two other newly-elected Republicans in the Iowa House started talking about filing the articles of impeachment.  Last night, Shaw told me they waited ’til now to file the resolutions outlining the proposed articles of impeachment because they wanted to ensure the language was right.  The three rookie House members — Shaw, Glen Massie of Des Moines and Kim Pearson of Pleasant Hill — co-sponsored the resolutions along with two GOP veterans in the House — Dwayne Alons of Hull and Betty De Boef of What Cheer.

The process of impeaching the justices in Iowa starts in the House, where articles of impeachment — in the form of a resolution — would have to pass the 100-member House.  The matter then would go to the Iowa Senate.  After the regular legislative session adjourns, the Senate would reconvene and hold a trial.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.