Governor-elect Terry Branstad said last month he would not comment on a move to impeach the four justices who remain on the Iowa Supreme Court, but early this week he told The Cedar Rapids Gazette impeachment is “not the appropriate remedy.”
Branstad has been a critic of the court’s unanimous 2009 ruling which made gay marriage legal in Iowa. Branstad told one of the Gazette’s reporters the court had “overreached” by tossing out the state law which declared the only legal marriages in Iowa were between a man and a woman.
Iowa voters ended the terms of three of the justices in this fall’s election and a group of newly-elected House Republicans intends to draft articles of impeachment for the other justices who remain on the court. Branstad told the newspaper “it’s pretty obvious” the justices have not committed the kind of “malfeasance” which should lead to impeachment. Branstad said Iowans will have a chance to vote those four justices off the bench in upcoming retention elections.
Erin Seidler is a spokeswoman for “Justice, Not Politics” — a group which supports retaining the justices.
“We are a bit disappointed that it took Terry 13 days to come to this point,” Seidler says. “We are pleased that he came to the same conclusion that I think a lot of Iowans are coming to, that the threat to impeach the remaining four supreme court justices is a dangerous idea with serious consequences.”
Seidler says her group hopes Branstad is able to persuade his fellow Republicans to drop their plan to pursue impeachment.
“We need leadership right now and Iowans are looking for leadership on this,” Seidler says. “…We need Iowans to come together and tell lawmakers to end any impeachment talk now.”
The man who led the campaign to oust three of the justices through the 2010 retention election process has been calling on the other four justices to resign. Bob Vander Plaats, the C.E.O. of The FAMiLY Leader, said late last month that if the justices don’t resign, there’s a “better than 50/50 shot” they will be impeached.