Archive for the 'Impeachment' Category
It 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.
The 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
To 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.”
The 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.”
Is 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.”
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
An editorial in the Stillwater (Ok.) News Press has added to the chorus chiding a small group of legislators calling for the impeachment of seven state Supreme Court justices over a controversial ruling.
Those Supreme Court justices comprised the 7-2 majority in declaring that a granite Ten Commandments marker must be removed from the state Capitol grounds, because it violated the state Constitution.
“The state constitution,” the editorial commented, “allows for the impeachment of the governor, elected officers or Supreme Court justices for ‘willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetence, or any offense involving moral turpitude committed while in office.’ Read more
Republican Texas state Rep. Cecil Bell, a foe of the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples, is calling on Congress to begin impeachment of five Supreme Court justices and to consider court-stripping legislation. It’s another ripple in the fallout over recent blockbuster decisions by the high court, including one that declared a Constitutional right to marriage for same-sex couples.
Bell’s “Pact for Constitutional Restoration of State Sovereignty” includes the following planks:
“United States House of Representatives Members must act to promptly begin the constitutional process of impeaching Supreme Court Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan for the bad behavior shown in acting without constitutional authority to strike down the sovereign power of the separate states and of the people of the separate states. The United States Senate must act to complete the process of impeachment.”
“US Representatives and Senators must act immediately to pass legislation to strip the ability of the United States federal judiciary to hear classes of claims where the United States federal judiciary lacks enumerated constitutional authority, thereby making certain legislative and executive actions unreviewable by the federal judiciary, those claims reserved to be reviewable by state courts.”
A threat by state legislators to impeach Oklahoma Supreme Court justices over a ruling is an “an extreme and unjustifiable response to a controversial decision,” a Tulsa World editorial warned.
Last week, a small group of state legislators announced their intent to pursue impeachment proceedings against those Supreme Court justices who comprised the majority in declaring that a granite Ten Commandments marker must be removed from the state Capitol grounds, because it violated the state Constitution.
An Associated Press article quoted David Poarch, head of the Oklahoma Bar Association, about the dangers of impeachment threats. “You don’t change the law by impeaching people,” he said. “They need to be careful about the rhetoric they throw out, because at some point the electorate is going to decide that maybe the Legislature needs to be impeached.” Read more
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