Archive for the 'Impeachment' Category
A firestorm has followed the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling that a Ten Commandments marker is unconstitutional and must be removed from the state Capitol grounds. “A politician in this country needs to wage war against the judiciary,” thundered FOX News contributor Eric Erickson. A state legislator said the high court could be reduced to one judge or its funding halved, the Edmond Sun reported. Politicians’ threats of impeaching the seven justices continued.
Amid the furor, the Tulsa World quoted Justice at Stake Deputy Executive Director Liz Seaton about the dangers of impeachment threats. “This latest threat by Oklahoma legislators to bully the state’s Supreme Court is deeply disturbing,” she said (see Gavel Grab). “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.” Read more
U.S. District Judge Callie Granade of Mobile, Al. ordered on Wednesday that probate judges who issue marriage licenses must issue them for all couples, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
Judge Granade had ruled earlier (see Gavel Grab) that same-sex couples had a right to wed in the state, but she held off implementing the ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court took a stand. It did so last week, declaring a constitutional right for same-sex couples to wed.
Meanwhile, according to The Advocate and also Birmingham Business Journal, a petition at the MoveOn.org website for Chief Justice Moore’s impeachment has received more than 16,000 signatures. The petition contends the jurist should be removed “for his inability to perform his duties with impartiality.” The Advocate’s article was headlined, “He Went There: Antigay Judge Roy Moore Compares Marriage Equality to Holocaust.”
To learn about Chief Justice Moore’s opinions about same-sex marriage, read Gavel Grab.
“The latest threat by Oklahoma legislators to bully the state’s Supreme Court is deeply disturbing,” Justice at Stake Deputy Executive Director Liz Seaton said on Wednesday after several legislators had voiced support for the impeachment of seven 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. Judges and justices must be permitted to rule fairly and impartially, in accordance with the facts and the law, without political interference or intimidation. Otherwise none of us will be assured of our fair day in court, as judges will be stripped of their ability to fulfill their essential role in protecting all our rights under law.”
On Tuesday, a small group of state legislators announced their intent to pursue impeachment proceedings against those Oklahoma Supreme Court justices who comprised the majority in declaring that a granite Ten Commandments marker must be removed from the state Capitol grounds. Read more
Shortly after the Supreme Court upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (see Gavel Grab), one conservative group called for impeachment of the six justices in the majority.
“The six U.S. Supreme Court justices who voted to uphold ObamaCare should be impeached for abandoning the rule of law,” said Larry Klayman, the head of Freedom Watch, according to McClatchy Newspapers.
“These six Justices have violated their own long-established rules of interpretation for applying statutes to instead advance their own political objectives or burnish their public persona. Such personal goals corrode the role of the Court. The justices abandoned the rule of law and have become merely a political focus group.” Read more
It makes no sense to talk of impeaching U.S. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because she officiated at the marriages of same-sex couples, said the liberal blog, explaining as follows:
“The same-sex weddings Ginsburg has officiated were all conducted in Washington, DC, where it was legal for the couples to marry. Ginsburg was certainly correct that the Constitution vests her with judicial power, and DC law allows any ‘judge or retired judge of any court of record’ to officiate a marriage ceremony. Ginsburg was simply performing one of her official duties, administering the law as befits her constitutional title. Furthermore, she made no public comment on whether the couples were entitled to those marriages under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, the actual question at stake in the same-sex marriage cases.”
In a talk with a conservative host, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore floated the idea of Congress launching impeachment proceedings if U.S. Supreme Court justices weighing a marriage equality decision “disobey” the U.S. Constitution.
The interview with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins was posted by Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way. Chief Justice Moore said that U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan had performed marriage rites for same-sex couples. He went on to quote from a news article reporting that when Justice Ginsburg did so recently, she said she was doing so by powers vested in her by the U.S. Constitution.
Chief Justice Moore said, “She is doing it in the face of plain evidence that she is violating the ethical rules set for federal judges.” Justice Ginsburg was commenting on the issue that is before the court in a pending case, he said. He also registered his own view that the U.S. Constitution does not mention marriage. When asked by Perkins if Congress has a responsibility to act, Chief Justice Moore said yes.
“If Congress is going to let these justices disobey the Constitution they are sworn to uphold, then Congress has a check and a balance. It’s called impeachment,” he said. Huffington Post reported, “Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Wants Ruth Bader Ginsburg Impeached.” Read more
In a guest blog for the Washington Post, Michael S. Paulsen, co-author of The Constitution: An Introduction delves into his analysis of the power of Congress to impeach other officials, specifically federal judges. He explains:
“By implication, at least, our book takes a more charitable view of impeachment than of either court-terminating or court-packing as a check against (believed) judicial lawlessness. Impeachment of judges for perceived deliberate abuse of office by their lawless decisions — ‘a series of deliberate usurpations’ in violation of their oaths — is directed (as the impeachment inquiry properly should be) at individual culpability, not institutional capability. That is more constitutionally defensible in principle, even if it has fairly obviously troubling implications and (like all powers and checks) is capable of being abused.”
On April 28, the Supreme Court will hear long-awaited oral arguments in order to decide whether marriage is a constitutional right for same-sex couples. The historic day is drawing lots of media attention, including for a plaintiff at the center of the cases the court will hear; the favorable ruling he won in a lower court was so controversial that a politician urged the judge’s impeachment.
The marriage lawsuits are consolidated under the case named Obergefell vs. Hodges. A Los Angeles Times feature explained, “The justices are widely expected to rule in favor of legalized gay marriage nationwide. But they also asked to hear arguments April 28 on a possible smaller step, letting states resolve the issue but forcing those where same-sex marriage is illegal to recognize unions performed in other states. That dispute is at the heart of Obergefell’s suit.”
In 2013, Federal District Judge Timothy S. Black recognized the marriage of James Obergefell and John Arthur of Ohio, who were wed in Maryland as Arthur was dying. As a result, Obergefell was listed on an Ohio death certificate as Arthur’s surviving spouse, despite an Ohio ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Read more
An editorial in the Idaho Press-Tribune takes Idaho legislators to task for passing a resolution urging the impeachment of federal judges who support marriage for same-sex couples. In a sharply worded piece, Opinion Editor Phil Bridges notes that the state House resolution disregards the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of powers. He goes on to remind lawmakers that many of them voted for a law requiring the state’s high school seniors to pass a basic civics test.
Underscoring his point, Bridges writes, “You can’t declare that a judge should be kicked out because he or she has a difference of opinion on constitutional interpretation. That would be akin to judges declaring that lawmakers should be impeached for passing ‘bad law.’”
A wave of court rulings affirming marriage rights for same-sex couples has generated increasing calls for impeachment and censure of judges in a number of states. While some have been symbolic, as in Idaho, others could result in penalties for sitting judges if passed. See Gavel Grab.
Another Kansas editorial is sharply critical of legislation that would expand the ways a state Supreme Court justice can be impeached (see Gavel Grab). The Hays Daily News editorial says the legislation tramples on the checks and balances of the three branches of government.
Among other things, the legislation would add as a grounds for impeachment any attempt to usurp the authority of the legislature. The editorial says the legislation has an agenda, and it involves elected politicians who are allied with Republican Gov. Sam Brownback retaliating against the court:
“In other words, justices who negatively evaluate the laws passed in Kansas by the Brownback bunch could be removed from office. That is not the way the system is supposed to work. Even children are being taught that in Kansas schools — at least for now.
“Brownback’s power grab has to be stopped. Laws need to be reviewed for their constitutionality, not their moral or political bent. If the executive and legislative branches are checked when they attempt to starve the education system or discriminate in the name of religion, the answer is not to replace the justices. Attempting to do so is an affront to democracy, the state, and this great nation.”