State Impeachment Threats
“A judge has never been removed through impeachment for making an unpopular decision. I don’t think Iowa wants to be remembered as the first state to do this.”
--Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady
‘An Assault on Constitutional Government’
The year 2011 likely marked the “single biggest year in history for efforts to impeach state judges,” according to the National Center for State Courts.
- Several House Republicans urged impeachment of four Iowa Supreme Court justices, in retaliation for a high court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.The effort failed, as polls showed Iowans strongly opposed.
- In New Hampshire, a controversy over whether to impeach a family-law judicial officer was parlayed by legislators into a blank check to investigate all state trial judges.
- In Oklahoma, there was a bid to impeach a judge who accepted a plea agreement that had been approved by the prosecution, the defense, and the victim’s parents.
In a January 2010 Washington Post commentary, JAS Executive Director Bert Brandenburg wrote that no federal or state judge has been impeached for judicial opinions or philosophy since the earliest days of our nation.“The debate may have started over same-sex marriage, but the specter of impeachment has transformed it into an assault on constitutional government … If courts can’t make tough calls, they won’t be able to uphold the Constitution and protect our rights.”