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Iowa Republicans seek to impeach justices over marriage ruling

By Reuters
Friday, April 22, 2011 9:18 EDT
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DES MOINES (Reuters) – Five Republican state legislators co-sponsored resolutions on Thursday to impeach four of the justices on the Iowa state supreme court but the measures are likely to stall this year, lawmakers said.

Iowa voters tossed three justices off the bench last November who joined the court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. But four other justices who were part of that unanimous ruling remain on the court.

Representative Tom Shaw said the articles of impeachment he helped draft accuse the four remaining justices of overstepping their authority.

“Marriage is between one man and one woman and they just up and tried to change the definition of a word and you just can’t do that,” Shaw said. “Justices don’t have the authority to change the meanings of words.”

The Iowa legislature passed a Defense of Marriage Act in 1998. Two years ago the state’s highest court ruled the law was unconstitutional.

Shaw said the four justices should be impeached in order to “maintain the integrity” of the state’s constitution.

The articles of impeachment allege the four justices committed malfeasance in office by “usurping” powers reserved for legislators, creating a “constitutional crisis.”

Republican Representatives Dwayne Alons, Betty DeBoef, Glen Massie and Kim Pearson joined Shaw as co-sponsors.

Earlier this year the chairman of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee said there weren’t enough votes in that committee to advance articles of impeachment against the four justices.

House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a statement on Thursday night calling on the Republican leaders in the House to “publicly condemn” the efforts of the five.

McCarthy said impeaching the justices is an “outrageous, extremist proposal.”

(Reporting by Kay Henderson. Editing by Peter Bohan)

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