In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, and ever since, Republican activists have been trying to punish the justices involved. As Miranda Blue explained the other day, Iowa conservatives will try just about anything: “In 2010, anti-gay groups funded a successful campaign to oust three justices in retention elections. Then Iowa anti-gay leader Bob Vander Plaats called for the remaining justices to resign. When that didn’t work, state Republicans then tried to impeach them. Last year, an effort to remove a fourth justice failed at the ballot box.”
The new plan is a doozy.
A handful of [state] House conservatives want to reduce the pay of Iowa Supreme Court justices involved in a 2009 decision striking down a ban on same-sex marriages as part of an effort to maintain the balance of power in state government.
“It’s our responsibility to maintain the balance of power” between the three co-equal branches of government, Rep. Tom Shaw, R-Laurens, said Tuesday.
The justices “trashed the separation of powers” with their unanimous Varnum v. Brien decision and implementation of same-sex marriage without a change in state law banning any marriages expect between one man and one woman, added Rep. Dwayne Alons, R-Hull.
Keep in mind, there’s no attempt at subtlety here. It’s not like Iowa Republicans are saying they have to cut judges’ salaries to address a budget crisis. Rather, they simply hope to cut the pay for state Supreme Court justices Republicans don’t like.
It’s unusually shameless – justices on the state court who didn’t side in support of marriage equality in 2009 will receive their full pay, justices who endorsed equal marriage rights will get a pay cut.
Jillian Rayfield noted that proponents of the idea insist their measure is not intended to be punitive; Iowa Republicans are “just holding them responsible for their decision, for going beyond their bounds.” Yeah, that ought to clear things up.
It’s unclear if the bill has a credible chance of passing, but the fact that it was proposed at all is rather stunning.