The man who chaired the successful campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices says he’d prefer the four remaining justices on the court resign rather than be impeached.
Bob Vander Plaats, president and C.E.O. of The FAMiLY Leader, was the chairman of Iowa for Freedom — the group which led the effort to defeat three of the justices in November’s judicial retention election.
“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the people of Iowa to go through a long, drawn-out impeachment hearing. There’s a lot of issues on the plate (for legislators),” Vander Plaats says. “But this issue’s going to be in the judge’s hands. If they choose to resign, it doesn’t go through the impeachment process. If they choose not to resign, I think it will go through the impeachment process.”
Three Republicans who’ll be sworn in as state representatives in January intend to draft articles of impeachment against the four Iowa Supreme Court justices.
“It’s not that I’m not gung-ho on the impeachment idea. I believe there’s a process,” Vander Plaats says. “Being a former high school principal, I always wanted to give students who were in violation of the student handbook the opportunity to do the right thing. That’s what the resignation piece is. I think the concern, as I mentioned during the judge retention effort, was we need to stay focused on ‘vote no’ — I mean, not get into other cases and do all that, but stay focused on our message and that’s why I’m staying focused on the resignation.”
However, Vander Plaats is predicting that if the Republican-led House passes articles of impeachment, there’s a “better than 50/50 shot” the Democratically-led Iowa Senate will vote to impeach the justices.
“And that’s why I think the resignation’s the thing to do. It honors the court. It respects the voice of the people and you do the right thing and you let Iowa get on with business,” Vander Plaats says. “…People really don’t want to see a 2012 retention campaign again. They don’t want to see a 2016 retention campaign again. I think if (the justices) really want to put an end to this, they do the right thing, they step down and allow the process now to carry forward and, to me, that’d be in the best interest of Iowans.”
Vander Plaats made his comments after taping the December 31 edition of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program. December 31,2010 is the final day on the court for the three justices who were voted off the bench.