Before there is a movement in the Iowa legislature to impeach four Iowa Supreme Court justices who were not up for retention last November, former Iowa gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats said they should be allowed to resign.
On Thursday, Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, brought his 99-county tour to Scott County. It is the 72nd county he has visited in hopes of launching a grassroots effort to keep conservatives involved in the political process, as well as getting rid of the four justices.
Three justices on Iowa’s highest court were removed by voters on Nov. 2.
“We should give the remaining four justices the opportunity to do the right thing,” Vander Plaats told a crowd of about 30 people at Wise Guy’s Pizza in Davenport.
“If all seven justices had been on the ballot, all seven would have been voted off the bench,” he said.
While there has been talk of impeaching the remaining four judges, Vander Plaats said he would support such a measure only if he could read the articles of impeachment and make sure they are worded properly.
“The only way you can impeach a Supreme Court justice is by a charge of malfeasance,” he said, adding that in his opinion, that justices are guilty of that if they go beyond their constitutional limits.
One of the justices, David Wiggins, is up for a vote to retain in 2012, Vander Plaats said.
Justices Brent Appel, Darryl Hecht and Chief Justice Mark Cady are up for retention in 2016, he added.
Earlier Thursday, a group that is opposing efforts to remove the justices accused Vander Plaats of trying to politicize the courts.
Josh Mandelbaum, a Davenport lawyer, also called on Vander Plaats to identify donors to the effort he led last year to oust the three justices.
Earlier this week, The Associated Press reported that potential presidential candidate Newt Gingrich lined up $150,000 for the defeat of the justices, and that a group called Renewing American Leadership, which is run by a longtime Gingrich aide, gave $125,000 to American Family Association Action and $25,000 to the Iowa Christian Alliance.
Both groups were major financial players in the campaign to defeat the justices, but Gingrich’s role only became clear this week.
“We should know who is making these donations,” Mandelbaum said. “We should know if Iowans are funding his effort, or if that’s coming from special interest groups, people outside the state who might have their own political agenda and not the best interests of Iowans in mind.”
Mandelbaum added Vander Plaats’ agenda is out of touch with Iowans, who want policymakers to focus on the economy.