Monday, June 29, 2009

Vander Plaats predicts own impeachment over gay marriage « Iowa Independent

Future trouble in IOWA????

Vander Plaats predicts own impeachment over gay marriage « Iowa Independent

By Jason Hancock 6/29/09 10:17 AM

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats has renewed his promise to end same-sex marriage with an executive order, even if it means facing impeachment.

Bob Vander Plaats

Appearing on the show of controversial Christian radio host Steve Deace, Vander Plaats once again said if elected governor in 2010 he would issue an executive order stopping same-sex marriage until the legislature either passes a law legalizing it or passes a constitutional amendment banning it.

“I can’t give the people the right to vote on this, but I think I can mobilize people like [Senate Majority Leader Mike] Gronstal and [House Speaker Pat] Murphy by saying no more same-sex marriages until you step up and vote to make this law,” Vander Plaats said.

After doing so, he said he fully expects Democrats to try to remove him from office for “promoting lawlessness.”

“I would like to have that debate, because then Pat Murphy has to go back to his people in Dubuque and tell them we’re going to impeach Vander Plaats because he wants the legislature to do its job in the constitution and he also wants to give you the right to vote,” he said. “I don’t think that would play very well.”

Mark Kende, director of Drake University’s Constitutional Law Center, said the governor lacks the authority to issue an executive order freezing a decision by the Iowa Supreme Court. And while they disagree on many things, that is “pretty well accepted constitutional law by scholars who are both conservative and liberal.”

If Vander Plaats were to issue such an order, it could result in a constitutional crisis the likes of which the country hasn’t seen since desegregation cases in the Deep South, Kende said. Local officials, who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses, would be stuck between the governor’s executive order and an earlier order from the Iowa Attorney General’s office explaining to county recorders that they have no authority to ignore the court’s ruling.

Ultimately, desegregation cases were settled in the south by the federal government using troops to support the court, an option that is unlikely in Iowa.

“Courts do depend on the executive branch for enforcement, and regular executive disobedience would result in numerous crises,” Kende said. “This is what has happened in some other countries where the executive ignores the judiciary, such as Zimbabwe to give just one example.”

Vander Plaats said the Iowa Supreme Court overstepped its authority when on April 3 it issued an order striking down the state’s Defense of Marriage Act and legalizing same-sex marriage.

“If the Supreme Court goes out of bounds, who holds them in check?” he said. “I believe that’s where the executive branch comes in, to hold them in check. “

How to oppose same-sex marriage has been a focal point of a debate raging within the Republican Party of Iowa. Last month, Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King of Kiron publicly criticized those calling on elected officials to ignore the court’s ruling, saying the only method available to Iowans to stop same-sex marriage is a constitutional amendment.

King’s opinion, which he shared in a guest column for The Des Moines Register, drew harsh criticism from Deace and conservative activist Bill Salier, who said elected officials must be willing to confront the judicial branch, as well as ignore decisions they disagree with.

More recently, Vander Plaats attacked another GOP gubernatorial hopeful, Christopher Rants, for saying the governor does not have the authority to issue such an order.

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