Iowa GOPers: Cut pay of justices who made gay marriage decision

Republicans are targeting the Iowa Supreme Court justices who unanimously ruled to legalize gay marriage

Published April 24, 2013 4:46PM (EDT)

   (<a href='url to photographer's gallery'>Marc Bruxelle</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(Marc Bruxelle via Shutterstock)

Several Republicans in the Iowa House of Representatives are pushing to cut the pay of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in 2009 -- though they contend that it's not meant to punish the justices.

Rep. Tom Shaw, a Republican, said that the bill was meant "to maintain the balance of power” between the different branches of government in the state. "We’re just holding them responsible for their decision, for going beyond their bounds,” he said.

The Iowa Gazette reports:

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.

Their amendment to House File 120, the judicial branch budget bill, would lower the salaries of the four justices on the seven-member court who were part of the unanimous Varnum v. Brein decision to $25,000 – the same as a state legislator.

“It’s not the merits of what they said in that decision,” Alons said.

The Iowa Supreme Court justices have long been a target of right-wing groups over their ruling: In 2010, social conservative groups like the National Organization for Marriage and Iowa for Freedom, a group linked to the American Family Association, poured money into the state in a successful campaign to oust three of the justices.This was made possible by the state's policy of "merit retention" for judges, which allows voters to decide whether to keep or chuck a justice at the end of his or her term.

Iowa for Freedom tried again in 2012, when one of the remaining four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage reached the end of his term, but the group was unsuccessful and the justice held onto his seat.

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Gay Marriage Iowa Iowa Supreme Court Nom Republicans