Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Impeachment' Category

Legislatures Asked to Weigh Restrictions on Use of Foreign Law

Efforts to restrict Islamic, foreign, or international law, in our courts continue on a widespread basis, and in West Virginia, proposed legislation threatens impeachment of a judge found to have violated such a restriction.

That news comes from Gavel to Gavel, a publication of the National Center for State Courts. “A raft of new legislation” has been introduced in 12 states this year, Gavel to Gavel reports, and some of the proposals continue to specifically ban use of sharia in state courts.

The National Center for State Courts is a Justice at Stake partner organization. You can learn more about issues around impeachment of judges from the JAS web page on the topic.

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Lawmaker Wants Impeachment of Two Supreme Court Justices

Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan ought to be impeached because they participated in the court’s marriage equality ruling last year after having performed marriages for same-sex couples, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said.

“We have two of them who had done same-sex marriages before they participated, they were disqualified, but they illegally participated, it’s an illegal decision, and it’s time to start impeaching judges and remove them from the Supreme Court,” he said in an interview with a Florida talk radio host, according to Right Wing Watch. It is a publication of People for the American Way. Read more

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Impeachment of Utah Juvenile Court Judge is Urged

There is a call to impeach a Utah judge who ordered the removal of a foster child from the home of lesbian parents, saying the girl would have a better life as the child of heterosexual parents. Amid a backlash, he reversed himself a few days later (see Gavel Grab).

The Alliance for a Better Utah urged impeachment of Judge Scott Johansen, according to ABC 4 Utah, and said he was reprimanded by the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission several years ago. The reprimand came after the judge slapped a teen-aged boy in a meeting at a courthouse, the group said.

The Human Rights Campaign, meanwhile, has submitted a complaint with the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission contending that the juvenile court judge violated rules of judicial conduct, according to Fox 13 Salt Lake City. HRC cited a section of the code stating that “A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or Read more

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Report: Impeachment of U.S. Judge Urged by Talk Radio Host

Conservative talk radio host Bryan Fischer has urged impeachment and removal from office of U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, who recently ordered Rowan County, Ky. Clerk Kim Davis to jail because she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Fischer’s stance was reported by Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way. Fischer said the judge had imposed an unconstitutional “religious test” on Davis by finding her in contempt of court, according to Right Wing Watch. She was jailed for several days and then released (see Gavel Grab).

Justice at Stake has cautioned about the wielding of impeachment threats over individual rulings. “Efforts to impeach judges over a controversial ruling are particularly troubling. They ignore the U.S. Constitution and are destructive to our justice system. The Constitution limits impeachment to ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ Whether courtroom decisions may seem progressive or conservative, they are not criminal. They are not grounds for impeachment,” Liz Seaton, who now is JAS interim executive director, wrote with co-author Jamie Barnett in a Governing op-ed in March (see Gavel Grab).

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WA Legislators Apparently Drawing Judicial Impeachment Articles

education-fundingIt appears some Washington legislators are making good on a recent threat to seek to impeach state Supreme Court justices over their ordering higher public education funding and sanctions when the state did not comply (see Gavel Grab).

“The Republicans are working on articles of impeachment for the Supreme Court justices,” Democratic Sen. Jamie Pedersen told Capitol Hill Times.  “I don’t believe that we’ve ever impeached Supreme Court justices.”

“When politicians threaten to remove judges from office for a single ruling, it strikes at the heart of the checks and balances system embedded in our democracy,” Justice at Stake said earlier this year about judicial impeachment threats in another state, Oklahoma.

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Calls for Impeachment After WA Court Issues Education Sanctions

Seal_of_Washington.svgThe Washington Supreme Court has fined the state $100,000 a day until legislators come up with a concrete plan to adequately fund K-12 education. Some legislators reacted by raising impeachment threats.

“The time has come for the court to impose sanctions,” the court said on Thursday, according to The Spokesman-Review. It is the latest step in a long-running battle. Because  some legislators believe the court has overstepped its authority on education, there are implications nationally for defenders of impartial courts (see Gavel Grab).

Republican Rep. Matt Shea said the court order violated the separation of powers, and said he had requested the drawing of articles of judicial impeachment. “They are not black robed philosopher kings and queens,” he said on his Facebook page. Read more

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Commentary: ‘Dangerous’ to Seek Impeachment of Justices

US Supreme CourtTo seek the impeachment of five U.S. Supreme Court justices over the court’s recent landmark ruling on marriage rights for same-sex couples would “set a dangerous precedent,” Denis Montenier writes in a Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Ia.) Courier op-ed.

Montenier responds to an earlier commentary that voiced disagreement with the court’s ruling and called for impeaching the justices in the 5-4 majority. He writes:

“To initiate impeachment proceedings against the five justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage would not only set a dangerous precedent but would be most divisive. It would only succeed in making the American people more cynical and distrustful. While impeachment might get through the Republican-controlled House, it would be virtually impossible for the Senate to garner the two-thirds majority required for conviction, making the attempt a colossal waste of taxpayer time and money.”

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OK Court Reaffirms Ruling: Ten Commandments Marker Must Go

cut4qtcThe Oklahoma Supreme Court has reaffirmed its earlier ruling that a granite Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds must be removed, rejecting a request by the state for the court to reconsider its decision.  This sets the stage for the marker to come down within a few weeks, according to the Oklahoman.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt had requested a rehearing, maintaining that the court “got it wrong.” But justices ruled 7-2 to deny the rehearing request.  According to the Oklahoman, the court determined that “The monument violates a section of the Oklahoma Constitution prohibiting state property from being used to further religions.”

The court’s original decision on June 30 sparked impeachment threats against the seven justices who ruled that the monument must come down (see Gavel Grab).  “This latest threat by Oklahoma legislators to bully the state’s Supreme Court is deeply disturbing,” Justice at Stake Deputy Executive Director Liz Seaton said at the time, in a statement published in the Tulsa World.  “When politicians threaten to remove judges from office for a single ruling, it strikes at the heart of the checks and balances system embedded in our democracy.”

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OK Opinion: Political Attacks Undermine Public Trust in Courts

Oklahoma flagIs an age-old tension between the political branches and the judiciary escalating to a new and dangerous level? In Oklahoma, where several legislators recently called for impeachment of state Supreme Court justices, attorney David Poarch fears that’s the case.

Poarch is president of the Oklahoma Bar Association. In a Norman Transcript op-ed, he labels the impeachment call (after the court had ordered removal of a Ten Commandments marker from the capitol grounds–see Gavel Grab for background) “just one example in a sea of comparable unending rants in response to decisions handed down by our highest courts.” At both the state and national level, he says, the fire of hostility against our courts is fueled by partisan politics. Poarch warns of damaging fallout:

“To all appearances … this historical tension appears to be escalating at an unprecedented pace to a disrespectful level of outright hostility and malevolence. The increasing political attacks on our judges and justices diminish the independence of the judiciary, and at least equally, if not more importantly, the public’s confidence in our system of justice. The distinction between fair criticism of judicial opinions and intimidation and threats directed at judges is an important one.”

Read more

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Legislator: Thumbs Down on OK Judicial Impeachment Proposal

Rep. Cox

Rep. Cox

A Republican legislator, who paused before taking a stand on an Oklahoma controversy over a Ten Commandments marker on the capitol grounds, now has given his opinion. He’s against impeaching state Supreme Court justices who ruled on the marker.

State Rep. Doug Cox said in a Tulsa World opinion that’s he’s against an impeachment proposal but would be open to considering a change to the state Constitution, which was the basis for a recent 7-2 state Supreme Court ruling that ordered removal of the marker from the capitol grounds.

“I will tell you now that I do not want to impeach our Supreme Court justices. I am open to looking at modifying the clause involved in our state constitution so that the Ten Commandments can remain. Would I vote for a change in our state Constitution that would leave the door wide open for anyone to put a monument on the Capitol grounds? I probably would not,” Cox wrote. Read more

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