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From the Desk of Rep. Betty De Boef

January 27, 2011
By Statre Rep. Betty De Boef (R-What Cheer)
The fall of the gavel began the 2011 legislative session on Monday, Jan. 10. The first day, after all swearing-in and speeches, we picked our seats for the next two years. I surprised everyone, including my sister / secretary by moving from # 2 on the center aisle to seat # 25 on the side aisle.

On Tuesday Governor Culver gave his last State-of-the-State speech, which was mainly a defense of his actions and his legacy.

I will focus on the State-of-the-Judiciary speech which was given by newly appointed Chief Justice Mark Cady. Justice Cady has arrived at this position because Chief Justice Marsha Ternus was ousted by the voters in the 2010 election. Justice Cady seemed intent on giving the legislature a history lesson, where he told us, “Iowa’s constitution declares that all laws contrary to the constitution are void. Clearly, our founders anticipated the possibility that the legislature could, at times, approve laws that might conflict with the constitution. Yet, at all times, they made it clear that the words used in the constitution to define our rights constrain all laws that follow.”

“Upholding the constitution is the most important function of courts, The duty of courts to review the constitutionality of laws is known as judicial review and is one of our most basic responsibilities. Judicial review has been recognized as the responsibility of courts in this country for well over two hundred years. This duty has been well documented and has played an important role in our country throughout its history. Alexander Hamilton was one of three authors of The Federalist Papers, which is considered one of the best explanations of the Constitution and the intent of its framers. In one of the essays, Federalist 78, written in the 1780s to help Americans understand the new proposed constitution, Hamilton wrote: “The courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature,…to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority. The interpretation of the laws is within the proper and peculiar province of courts.”

“Any question about the power of courts to review the constitutionality of a statute was promptly settled in 1830 by United States Supreme Court. In the landmark case Marbury vs. Madison, the Court found a portion of a federal law, the Judiciary Act of 1789, unconstitutional, and thus, invalid. As Chief Justice John Marshall explained in Marbury ‘It is emphatically the province of the judicial branch to say what the law is…..’Marshall referred to judicial review as ‘the essence of judicial duty.”

What Justice Cady did not say is the Court went far beyond what the law is, and interpreted it in the way they wanted it to be.

One of my concerns about the way the Supreme Court handled this ruling is they ruled the current DOMA law invalid based on precedents that they chose to follow rather than thousands of years’ worth of history and they chose to completely ignore the natural law of God. Then they failed to tell the legislature to take action. As a result of this, the Iowa Code still says one thing, but the State Attorney General ordered all county recorder’s to disregard what it says in the code. I consider this to be a constitutional crisis that I hope we can fix with a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man & a woman as it is defined in the Bible and in the Iowa Code.

One thing Justice Cady kept saying was it is important to remember that it is the duty of the Supreme Court to follow the constitution. What he found conveniently easy to ignore is the fact that the Iowa Constitution says in Article I Section 2, “All power is inherent in the people.” I wonder how he can insist that the voice of the people can so easily be discounted? He repeatedly said the courts do not follow public opinion. He told us that the courts are not political- that their mandate is to follow the law. The interesting thing about that was as he left he waved to his fans cheering him on in the gallery. I would like to know what that was, if not a political action.

To finish, I would like to quote Thomas Jefferson words spoken in 1820. “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions (is) a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps…their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.”

I am always happy to deal with any requests you may have or any input you may offer!  Please contact me during the interim at 641-634-2227


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