Senator Brad Zaun proposes hostile political takeover of Iowa courts
Des Moines, Iowa — Chair of Justice Not Politics, Connie Ryan, issued the following statement in response to Senator Brad Zaun’s unconstitutional legislation (SSB 3181) that would completely politicize Iowa courts, giving the legislature control over the Iowa Supreme Court:
“Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) introduced a bill amounting to nothing more than a hostile and political takeover of Iowa’s fair and independent courts. We depend on our courts to maintain their independence and to be a co-equal branch of government.”
“Zaun’s proposal is the latest in a series of attacks on our courts by some politicians because they are displeased with a few court decisions. They either misunderstand the role of the courts in general and the Iowa Supreme Court specifically, or they are intentionally misleading the public.”
“Iowa’s proud tradition of impartial and non-partisan courts must be protected from this legislation proposed by Zaun, which is egregious and embarrassing to our state.”
- Zaun’s legislation (SSB3181) includes the following extreme proposals:
Only the Iowa Supreme Court can rule to invalidate a law. The lower courts would be excluded from having this jurisdiction.
- If the Iowa Supreme Court invalidates a law as unconstitutional, it must be done by a vote of at least 5 of 7 justices, as opposed to a majority decision.
- Within one year of a ruling, the general assembly can mandate certain justices attend a public hearing and defend their reasoning. The legislators can decide if they want to bring charges of impeachment, or not.
- After the hearing, the justice may change their vote on the original court decision.
The legislature can overturn a court decision that invalidates a law with a 2/3 vote of both the House and Senate.
Working alongside a coalition of partner organizations, Justice Not Politics will encourage Iowans to contact Senator Zaun and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and state legislature to oppose this political power grab.
Justice Not Politics is a broad based, nonpartisan coalition of organizations and Iowans across the political spectrum — progressive to conservative, Republicans, Independents and Democrats, representing tens of thousands of Iowans who believe our courts should be free from political and financial influence. For additional information, visit www.justicenotpolitics.org.
February 18, 2020
Contact: Connie Ryan, (515) 577-3636