Letter: Supreme Court acted within its powers; Republicans wrong to seek impeachment

House Republican leader Kraig Paulsen recently asked the people of Iowa for direction in determining whether to pursue an impeachment of the justices of the Iowa Supreme Court.

Mr. Paulsen, please do not corrupt the state’s judiciary by initiating an impeachment as retribution for the 2009 decision on the rule of marriage. To do so would undermine the intended purpose of the judicial branch: to assess the constitutionality of laws.

That’s all the court did in the Varnum v. Brien case: It ruled that the law limiting marriage to male-female relationships was unconstitutional. The Iowa Constitution, in case you didn’t know, offers equal protection for all. It’s right there in our Bill of Rights, Article I, Section 6: “All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation; the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.” This means the legislature was out of line with the Iowa Bill of Rights in defining marriage in the 1998 statute. The legislature overstepped, and the supreme court corrected; as it should be.

The intent of the structure of the judicial system is to be separate from the fluttering passions of the majority, to refocus discourse away from the microcosm of partisan politics and toward the broader scope of the fundamentals of our constitution.

In high school civics, I learned that the legislature answers to the people, and the judiciary answers to the Constitution. I’m beginning to think the Republican leaders of Iowa need a refresher course on the basics of our state government.