Archive for the 'Impeachment' Category
New Hampshire state Rep. Daniel Itse has sponsored a measure asking the state House of Representatives to explore whether to launch impeachment proceedings against Judge Jacalyn A. Colburn, a Superior Court judge, over a ruling in September.
According to a Nashua Telegraph article last month, Itse thinks the judge inserted personal belief into her ruling, involving addition of a city charter amendment to last November’s ballot. The newspaper said Itse “has sponsored or co-sponsored the removal of multiple judges in the past four years.” Read more
Even as the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the issue of marriage for same-sex couples, there is another call for the impeachment of a state judge who made a marriage ruling considered controversial.
Earlier this month Judge Sarah Zabel of the Miami-Dade Circuit Court in Florida responded to a federal court ruling, lifted a ban on marriage for same-sex couples that had been in place temporarily pending appeals, and married two couples. Several days ago, Mat Staver, head of Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, said Judge Zabel is “not objective but should be impeached,” according to the Christian Examiner.
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.” Read more
What’s the outcome when politicians and others call for the impeachment of judges over controversial rulings? It “can only pervert justice,” Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake, writes in a USA Today op-ed.
Brandenburg’s column cites recent impeachment calls over court decisions to delay executions, to scuttle state bans on marriage for same-sex couples, and even for the impeachment of U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. if he votes in a current case to gut the Affordable Care Act (see Gavel Grab). The impeachment calls come from both the right and the left.
“These attacks haven’t resulted in actual proceedings. Nor should they,” he writes. “The Constitution gives judges life terms, presuming good behavior. Impeachment of judges was not designed as a tool to settle political disagreements. If courts can’t make hard calls without a threat of political retaliation from the other two branches, they won’t be able to protect our fundamental rights, especially when doing so is unpopular.”
He concludes, “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.”
In a Nation commentary, journalist and author William Greider assails the conservative justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and floats the idea of impeaching Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.
Justice at Stake has consistently cautioned against impeachment calls based on disagreement with specific rulings. JAS Executive Director Bert Brandenburg warned in a statement when there was talk in 2010 of impeaching Chief Justice Roberts:
“Almost every American, liberal and conservative, has been angered by particular legal rulings, but that’s because we ask courts to settle tough legal disputes. It is reckless to threaten judges with ouster simply because we don’t like a particular decision.”
The Supreme Court has opened its new term with a surprise blockbuster. When it let stand decisions that struck down five states’ bans on marriage for same-sex couples (see Gavel Grab), the court cleared the way immediately for scores of new marriage vows, drawing both acclaim and condemnation.
A New York Times headline declared, “Supreme Court Hands Gay Marriage a Tacit Victory,” and an accompanying article reported, “Scenes of Exultation in Five States as Gay Couples Rush to Marry.” A Washington Post article called it a “turning point” and quoted a top ACLU lawyer as saying, “It is a watershed moment for the entire country.”
The white-hot marriage issue has provided plenty of grist in past years for foes to unload on judges over rulings they don’t like, however, and some of that continued on Monday.
David Lane, head of the American Renewal Project, warned, according to the Washington Post, “Impeachment begins in the House. I can’t figure out why a simple congressman won’t drop a bill of impeachment to remove people who are doing this to our country.” He added, “We’re going to deal with these problems — unelected and unaccountable judges — who have no right to interfere with the will of a free people.” Read moreNo comments
According to a blog of the Knoxville News Sentinel, serial litigant John Jay Hooker, a longtime foe of Tennessee’s merit system for selecting judges, has gotten assurances from some legislators that they will seek impeachment next year.
A Davidson County grand jury met earlier this year with lawyer Hooker and subsequently voiced questions about the legality of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (see Gavel Grab for background about JPEC.) Hooker plans to ask the grand jury to issue a report stating the three incumbent justices were on the Aug. 7 retention ballot illegally. Read moreNo comments
Add Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, to those calling for impeachment of Arkansas Judge Chris Piazza (see Gavel Grab), who recently struck down a state ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Here are excerpts from Brown’s letter in the NOM blog:
“As former Governor Mike Huckabee has said, Piazza apparently sees himself as some sort of ‘super-legislator’ who can decide important matters by judicial decree. We say it’s time to hold Judge Piazza accountable — by impeaching him.
“Please contact Governor Mike Beebe and your State Representative and Senator today and urge them to call for a special session of the Arkansas legislature in order to impeach Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza.No comments
A Beebe spokesman said the governor would not call a special session to consider impeachment of Judge Chris Piazza. “No, because when it comes to the judiciary, you don’t try to impeach a judge just because you don’t agree with his ruling,” the spokesman told The City Wire. “That’s what the appeals process is for. That’s the path we already know is going to be pursued.”
House Speaker Davy Carter, a Republican, opposed the idea of impeaching a judge over a single decision. “Notwithstanding the controversial subject matter of the decision, we are not going to impeach the circuit judge because members of the House don’t like the decision,” he said. “That’s just not going to happen. That’s a slippery slope. That’s why we have separation of powers. That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.” Read moreNo comments
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who once sought the Republican presidential nomination, has urged impeachment of Arkansas Judge Chris Piazza. The judge recently struck down a state ban on marriage for same-sex couples.
Huckabee urged Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to call a special legislative session to impeach the judge, according to The Hill. “The Governor should call a special session of the legislature and impeach the judge and affirm the people’s will. If the people wish to allow same sex marriage, they can put that matter on the ballot and vote for it,” Huckabee said. When Huckabee was governor, he signed the marriage ban into law 17 years ago.No comments
Recapping a tumultuous week involving the Oklahoma Supreme Court, an Associated Press article says tension among the three branches of Oklahoma government have reached a “boiling point.”
The high court first stayed the executions of two inmates, prompting sharp disagreement from Gov. Mary Fallin, then lifted the stays. Next, a legislator wrote a resolution to impeach five justices. Then, the state House defeated a proposal to give legislators more influence in selecting judges.
“It’s a government of divided power, and of course powerful people tend to covet still more power,” said Randall Coyne, a University of Oklahoma law professor. Eight of the nine justices were appointed by Democrats. The governor is Republican, and the GOP controls the legislature. Coyne called the impeachment call “absolutely ludicrous and blatantly politically motivated.”
On the other hand, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Aaron Stiles called the judiciary “a complete oligarchy” and said, “We want an independent judiciary, but we also want checks and balances over the judiciary, and right now we have none.” Read moreNo comments