April 28, 2013

Knock Knock. Who's there? An Iowa Republican

An Iowa Republican who?

An Iowa Republican who wants to pay judges on his state's highest court based on the decisions they make.

Judges on Iowa's Supreme Court make around $163K for their full-time jobs; state representatives like Tom Shaw (R-Laurens) make $25K for their part-time jobs (are you listening, New York?).  Shaw, upset with the unanimous decision of the justices back in 2009 on the constitutionality of gay marriage in Iowa, is one of a handful of folks proposing that the four judges still on the bench who were involved in that decision have their pay reduced to $25K, in part because
It's our job to maintain the balance of power between the three co-equal branches of  government.
Maybe it's just me, but the Legislature declaring war on the Judicial branch (and only part of it, mind you) by slashing salaries of people they don't like doesn't seem to have much at all to do with 'maintaining' the balance of power, it seems pretty much like a bald-faced power grab, doesn't it? 

The fact that the Iowa state motto is "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain" must be lost on Representative Shaw. So is this little section of the Iowa Constitution:
All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation: the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.
In the tripartite system, the Legislature is supposed to draft bills, laws and codes that are constitutional.  The Executive branch is supposed to pass or veto them. The Judicial branch is supposed to rule on the constitutionality of the law and codes.  Sometimes, there's a breakdown, usually starting with the Leg, when they miss the mark.  And when that happens, people go to court to get the final answer.

In their written decision, the justices went to great lengths to describe how they reached the conclusion that the Iowa code declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman was unconstitutional.  

Legislators have a few options when the Court decides against them: they can try and amend the law to meet constitutional requirements; they can drop the issue entirely; or they can try and amend the constitution, in which case "the people" decide (and by people, I mean corporations, unions, PACs, and so on, as well as humans who vote).

Rarely do they propose punitive damages against the judges.

This isn't about marriage equality.

Yes, the case was about marriage equality, but this issue is much larger than that --  it's a very bizarre and frightening concept generally.   Kind of makes you wonder where they could go next, doesn't it?

Knock knock.

No comments:

Post a Comment