Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Impeachment' Category

U.S. Judge Hands Ohio a Defeat in Marriage Ruling

Federal District Judge Timothy Black of Ohio ordered on Monday that Ohio officials must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples that were performed in other states where such marriage is legal, the Associated Press reported.

Gavel Grab has documented a recent increase in legislators’ calls to impeach judges who rule on the marriage issue, and Judge Black is one who has been targeted. Earlier this month Ohio state legislator John Becker renewed demands that Judge Black be impeached (see Gavel Grab), following the judge’s indications of how he expected to rule in the case decided this week.

In his ruling on Monday, Judge Black said that refusing to recognize marriages of same-sex couples violates constitutional rights and is “unenforceable in all circumstances.” Ohio intends to appeal Judge Black’s ruling, and the judge did not decide immediately whether to stay his order pending appeal.

Click here to learn more from Justice at Stake’s web page about impeachment threats against judges.


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Challenger to Branstad: IA Justices Should Have Been Impeached

Republican Tom Hoefling of Iowa, seeking the GOP nomination in a primary against Gov. Terry Branstad, advocated at a campaign event for changing the way Iowa judges are selected. Hoefling also said four justices that were part of a unanimous, and controversial, state Supreme Court marriage ruling should have been impeached.

Hoefling is ardent social conservative who opposes marriage for same-sex couples, according to the Newton Daily News, which reported on his stump remarks.  In 2010, voters ousted three justices who participated in the ruling under the state constitution that allowed marriages in Iowa for same-sex couples, and the four other justices were not standing for retention then. An effort to impeach the four failed when legislators from both parties Read more

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After Marriage Rulings, Calls to Impeach Judges Multiply

Legislators’ calls to impeach judges are multiplying in the wake of recent court rulings involving marriage for same-sex couples. Most recently, a Virginia legislator has called for the impeachment of U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen, who a day earlier had ruled the state’s ban was unconstitutional.

Del. Bob Marshall called for the impeachment of Judge Wright Allen in remarks on the state House floor, according to the Washington Post. “Legislating through the courts against the will of the people is lawless disregard for our representative form of government,” he said.

Last month, it was reported by the Charleston City Paper that state Sen. Lee Bright of South Carolina alluded to a federal judge in Utah who struck down that state’s ban on marriages of same-sex couples and said:

“I think if you just took the most egregious case, possibly the one out in Utah where basically the state constitution is being trumped by one federal judge, in a sense the will of a sovereign state … Congress ought to stand up and do its job and impeach one of these federal judges.” Read more

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Ohio Lawsuit That Led to Impeachment Threats to Continue

A broadened lawsuit that could lead to Ohio recognizing all same-sex marriages from other states will be allowed to continue.

According to the Daily Journal, “Judge Timothy Black rejected a request from state attorneys asking to have a funeral director removed from the lawsuit, a move that essentially would have squelched it.”

A ruling by Judge Black in the original case (see Gavel Grab) led to those who disagreed with his ruling to call for his impeachment.

That lawsuit would have applied only to two gay Cincinnati couples who married over the summer in other states, according to the Daily Journal.

Attorneys asked the judge for a broader ruling to require Ohio’s health department director to order all funeral directors and coroners to list gay clients as married if they were legally wed in other states.

In refusing to dismiss the case, the judge said that one reason the funeral director plaintiff could remain on the case is because of the possibility of that he could face prosecution.

A decision by the judge is expected in December.

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Impeachment Target Seen by Colleagues as Impartial, Thoughtful

A federal judge in Ohio, the target of a state legislator’s impeachment call over a controversial marriage decision, is getting support from defenders who describe him as an impartial and thoughtful jurist.

U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black  (photo) “is not a person that shoots from the hip,” lawyer Kelly Johnson of Cincinnati, who has appeared before the judge, told the Associated Press. “He works very hard and he is thoughtful in his decisions.”

“With respect to his decision, I believe he’s probably looked at it thoroughly and dispassionately,” said Jean Geoppinger McCoy, president of the Cincinnati Bar Association, who worked with Black in private practice. “He’s not one who, in my experience, will take up causes without a fundamental basis for his opinion.”

Republican state Rep. John Becker recently urged the start of impeachment proceedings against Judge Black for alleged “malfeasance and abuse of power.” While Ohio’s constitution bans marriage of same-sex couples, Judge Black recently recognized the marriage of a same-sex Ohio couple that wed out-of-state, and Becker was unhappy with the decision (see Gavel Grab). Read more

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Editorial Echoes JAS in Denouncing Impeachment Call

“Impeaching judges for making unpopular decisions would subject the nation’s judiciary to a political circus,” a Toledo (Ohio) Blade editorial said, echoing concerns raised by Justice at Stake about an impeachment threat against a federal judge.

The editorial criticized state Rep. John Becker’s (photo) recent call on Congress to start impeachment proceedings against U.S. District Judge Timothy Black over a controversial decision that involved marriage for a same-sex couple.

Last week, JAS Executive Director Bert Brandenburg said in a statement (see Gavel Grab), “If you got to a situation where every time a decision might be unpopular to somebody, and you threatened to impeach them, you would create a political circus around the judiciary.”

The Ohio editorial quoted Brandenburg to provide historical context for the impeachment call. To date, “no state or federal judge has been impeached for an opinion issued from the bench,” he wrote in a 2011 op-ed.

The editorial concluded, “The prudent, traditional, conservative way to deal with this case is to let it work its way through the courts. Gay couples should be accorded the equality they deserve. And Representative Becker should find better ways to spend his publicly subsidized time.”

Becker made the call after Judge Black recognized the marriage of a same-sex couple from Ohio that was wed legally out of state.


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JAS on Impeachment Threats Against Judges: ‘Vigilance is Needed’

In the wake of an Ohio legislator’s call for impeachment of a federal judge, Justice at Stake criticized such threats on Friday as “way out of the American mainstream” and urged citizens to be vigilant about attacks on impartial courts.

“Impeaching a judge over an individual decision is way out of the American mainstream. The Constitution did not provide for it, and in fact, the framers of the Constitution who were in Congress shortly after the Constitution was passed, debated and rejected this very idea,” said Bert Brandenburg, JAS executive director, in a statement. He continued:

“If you got to a situation where every time a decision might be unpopular to somebody, and you threatened to impeach them, you would create a political circus around the judiciary. You would have the courts in permanent turmoil, with judges constantly looking over their shoulder at whoever was the loudest that day.”

“Vigilance is needed. Every American needs to worry about the growing tide of pressure around our courts. These attacks often go under the radar, and when Americans find out about them, they typically reject them. But if Americans don’t stand up, then their political leaders won’t stand up for them.”

To see video of Brandenburg discussing impeachment of judges, click here or on the above image. Ohio state Rep. John Becker sounded the impeachment call when he disagreed with a decision by Federal District Judge Timothy S. Black recognizing the marriage of a same-sex couple from Ohio that was wed legally out of state. You can learn more background from this Gavel Grab post or click here to learn about a critical Ohio newspaper editorial.

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Editorial: ‘Get a Grasp’; Impeachment Inappropriate for Judge’s Ruling

An Ohio state lawmaker’s call to begin impeachment proceedings of a federal judge over a ruling in a marriage case (see Gavel Grab) has triggered critical editorial opinion.

Republican state Rep. John Becker recently urged the start of impeachment proceedings against U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black (photo) for alleged “malfeasance and abuse of power.” While Ohio’s constitution bans marriage of same-sex couples, Judge Black recently recognized the marriage of a same-sex Ohio couple that wed out-of-state, and Becker was unhappy with the decision.

A Cincinnati Enquirer editorial said that at a time when “something as basic as the right to marry means different things in different states,” Judge Black “is doing exactly what we ask judges to do” by interpreting conflicting laws and providing a ruling. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June on marriages for same-sex couples has “created a confusing landscape,” it said.

The editorial scolded Becker:

“It’s a period in our history that calls for patience, as citizens, legislatures and the courts work through the conflicts. It also requires judges and lawmakers to have a basic grasp of how our laws work.

“Unfortunately Ohio Rep. John Becker displayed neither patience nor a grasp of the law when he asked last week for the impeachment of U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black.” Read more

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Impeachment Sought for Judge in Ohio Marriage Case

Ohio’s constitution bans marriage of same-sex couples, but a federal judge recently recognized the marriage of a same-sex Ohio couple who wed out-of-state. Now Republican state Rep. John Becker (photo) has urged the start of impeachment proceedings against the judge for “malfeasance and abuse of power.”

Becker urged U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, to launch impeachment proceedings against Federal District Judge Timothy S. Black, according to a article. Here is Wenstrup’s reply:

“While Judge Black’s ruling violated the Ohio Constitution and the will of Ohio voters, the question of whether this decision also violated the U.S. Constitution remains before a higher court. I will watch those appellate proceedings closely to see if Judge Black’s decision is upheld and I have full confidence in the Ohio’s office of the Attorney General during the appeals process.”

When Judge Black recognized earlier this year the marriage of James Obergefell and John Arthur, who were wed in Maryland, he wrote, “This is not a complicated case.” He went on, according to the Washington Post,  ”The issue is whether the State of Ohio can discriminate against same sex marriages lawfully solemnized out of state, when Ohio law has historically and unambiguously provided that the validity of a marriage is determined by whether it complies with the law of the jurisdiction where it was celebrated.” Read more

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For Birther, Chief Justice Roberts Now the Target

An activist belonging to the birther movement has trained his sights on Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., suggesting the judge would be subject to impeachment if he swears in President Barack Obama for a second term.

A Huffington Post article reported that Craige McMillan, a commentator for, wrote last week by way of addressing the chief justice, “If you now administer the oath of office for the presidency to a man who by his own admission fails to meet the natural born citizen requirement imposed by that Constitution, you have violated your own oath of office and are rightly subject to impeachment by any House of Representatives, at any time, now or in the future.”

At a blog of the Rockford (Illinois) Register Star, Pat Cunningham remarked about McMillan’s assertion, “Just when you thought these people had crawled back beneath their rock, they come up with something like THIS.”


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