In a commentary piece for Governing, Justice at Stake Deputy Executive Director Liz Seaton and Board of Directors member Admiral Jamie Barnett note an alarming rise in legislative attacks on state courts, tied to the issue of marriage for same-sex couples. The piece, Same-Sex Marriage and the War on Our Courts, points out that legislators in several states “are pushing bills to intimidate, punish or fire public employees, including judges, who recognize or grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”
The authors note that legislatures are weighing such bills in at least four states: South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa. With the exception of a high-profile controversy in Alabama, the attacks on state courts have flown largely under the radar as news coverage of marriage equality focuses on the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s “outrageous,” the authors write, “that sitting judges who decide cases based on the law and constitution should fear reprisal from politicians.” Not only have some state lawmakers moved toward enacting punitive measures against courts, but impeachment threats against individual judges have been on the rise as marriage cases advance.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of marriage for same-sex couples by the end of its current term: see Gavel Grab for more.