Archive for the 'Impeachment' Category
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.”
Disagreement with a judge “can’t be a reason to impeach anyone,” a Hutchinson (Kansas) News editorial says in taking issue with a Republican lawmaker’s legislation (see Gavel Grab) to expand the grounds for impeaching state Supreme Court justices.
The editorial not only takes issue with the legislation pushed by state Sen. Mitch Holmes, it denounces “brazen hypocrisy” by some lawmakers who would expand the reasons for impeaching judges while maintaining silence about impeaching elected officials.
Holmes “thinks it is just the judicial branch that should be subject to more liberal impeachment rules,” the editorial says. “His bill makes no mention of what happens when the legislative or executive branch tries ‘to usurp the power’ of the judicial branch. We do, after all, have in this country a three-branch system designed of each to have a check and balance on the others.” Read more
A Kansas legislator pushing legislation to expand the grounds for impeaching state Supreme Court justices has said the courts view themselves as “autocratic” and complained about a list of their decisions. He also wants the legislation expanded to include lower-court judges.
As Gavel Grab mentioned earlier, the legislation by State Sen. Mitch Holmes, a Republican, adds as a grounds for impeachment any attempt to usurp the authority of the legislature.
Debra Erenberg, Justice at Stake Director of State Affairs, told the Hutchinson News that his legislation “stands out for its blatant disregard for the Kansas Constitution and the system of checks and balances in our democracy.” The state legislature has thrown just about everything, including the kitchen sink, at the courts this session, she said. Read more
A non-binding resolution urging Congress to impeach federal judges who don’t follow the Constitution’s original intent, although passed by the Idaho House, has died in the state Senate, according to the Idaho Press-Tribune.
The resolution was spurred by anger against federal judges who have struck down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.
The Senate Affairs Committee chairman told another legislative leader that his committee would not hear the resolution, an Idaho Public TV blog said.
Legislation introduced in the Kansas Senate this week spells out circumstances for impeaching a state Supreme Court justice, and it adds as a grounds for impeachment any attempt to usurp the authority of the legislature.
Republican State Sen. Mitch Holmes, reported to be the legislator behind the bill, told the Associated Press that existing constitutional language doesn’t give guidelines to legislators. Others, however, saw in the legislation another weapon for legislators to use in attacking Kansas courts, especially at a time where the courts and the legislature have not seen eye-to-eye about public education fund.
Political science professor Chapman Rackaway of Fort Hays State University told the Hutchinson News that parts of the legislation seemed “a very clear attempt to allow the legislators to impeach justices based on decisions like Gannon” v. State of Kansas, an ongoing case over education funding.
A Lawrence Journal-World editorial said the bill’s “attempting to usurp” language “opens wide the opportunity for two branches of the Kansas government to gang up on the other in arbitrary, unethical and damaging ways.” The editorial added: Read more
The Idaho House has voted 44-25 for a non-binding resolution urging Congress to impeach federal judges who don’t follow the Constitution’s original intent. The resolution was spurred by anger against federal judges who have struck down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.
The sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Shepherd, said he supports impeaching “every judge that votes against the original intent of the Constitution.” He would have supported impeaching then-Chief Justice Earl Warren over the Supreme Court’s ruling ending school prayer decades ago, Shepherd said in reply to a colleague’s question, according to the Twin Falls Times-News. Read more
Idaho’s House State Affairs Committee voted 12-4, along party lines, on Tuesday for a non-binding resolution urging Congress to support the impeachment of federal judges who issue rulings in favor of marriage for same-sex couples.
The sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Shepherd, told the panel, “All the people in the United States seem to be just rolling over with whatever the Supreme Court comes down with, so we need to do something about the Supreme Court.”
“I would say that arrogance and ignorance does not isolate itself to any one branch of this government. I cannot support this,” said Rep. Melissa Wintrow, a Democrat.
Rep. John McCrostie, a Democrat who is gay, said, “This bill puts us on the wrong side of history again, and I would encourage you to vote no on this.” He said his “life was transformed” when he exchanged wedding vows with his partner, according to a Spokesman Review blog post about the resolution.
As more court rulings have struck down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples, there have been more impeachment calls (see Gavel Grab). Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg wrote in a USA Today op-ed recently, “Courts deal with important issues, so controversy comes with the black robes. But the use of political impeachment threats over decisions can only pervert justice. This kind of bullying has no place in our political culture.”
State Rep. Paul Shepherd of Idaho, displeased with federal judges who have struck down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples, has proposed an impeachment resolution. The Idaho House State Affairs Committee voted along party lines on Monday to introduce it.
The resolution proposed by Shepherd, a Republican, seeks the impeachment of federal judges who don’t follow the Constitution’s original intent, according to a MagicValley.com article.
“They’re (federal judges) ruling just based on their agenda,” Shepherd maintained, according to the Idaho News Service. Last fall, Idaho’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples was effectively overturned in the federal courts. Shepherd said that judges violate their oaths of office when they read things into the Constitution that the nation’s founders didn’t intend.
“Original intent is really all we have,” he said. “Agenda and interpretation is what we’re all unhappy with.”