I’m grateful that the Iowa Independent bloggers listen to our local Rush Limbaugh clones so I don’t have to. If anything newsworthy comes out of some right-wing radio show, I can read about it online.
I learned recently that no matter how crazy Congressman Steve King seems, there are some conservatives who think he should be further outside the mainstream.
After the jump I have a few thoughts on the spat between King and wingnut Bill Salier, best known for almost beating establishment favorite Greg Ganske in the 2002 Republican Senate primary.
You may recall that Steve King reacted quite negatively to the Iowa Supreme Court’s Varnum v Brien ruling. He immediately called on the state legislature to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He also advocated imposing residency requirements for marriage licenses "so that Iowa does not become the gay marriage Mecca due to the Supreme Court’s latest experiment in social engineering." He has recorded anti-gay marriage robocalls for the National Organization of Marriage (see here and here).
That wasn’t good enough for Salier, who adheres to what I’ll call the “thanks but no thanks” doctrine:
Co-founder of Everyday America, Bill Salier, told the crowd [at an anti-gay marriage rally] that state lawmakers need to thank the Supreme Court justices for their opinion but say it’s merely opinion and the law is still on the books.
Salier said: “(Lawmakers) can face down the court and say, ‘We passed DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. You claim that it is stricken. And yet unless some magic eraser came down from the sky, it’s still in code.’”
Salier felt that introducing a residency requirement for marriage licenses was tantamount to conceding that the Iowa Supreme Court had the right to strike down the law banning gay marriage.
Fast-forward to May 26, when King published an op-ed in the Des Moines Register advocating a constitutional amendment to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling. I didn’t bother to write it up for this blog last week, because I saw nothing newsworthy in King’s tirade against the “lawless” court. But in fairness to King, he did acknowledge the concept of judicial review:
Some have called for the county recorders to refuse to abide by the decision. Others have called for the governor to issue an executive order in an attempt to overrule the court. Some called upon the Legislature to pass a new statute. Others argue that the Defense of Marriage Act is still on the books and should prevail over the Supreme Court’s decision. All of these arguments have the same flaw: They contain no end game, no solution, and no resolution, while denying judicial review itself. Like a dog chasing its tail, all of these proposals end up before the same court again, producing likely the same result we have today.
The courts have the power to interpret the law to decide cases. Since 1803, in the case of Marbury v. Madison, the judicial branch has exercised the power of judicial review. But constitutionally there exists the right and the duty of the people to overrule the will of the court.
The best way to put a check on this power grab by the judicial branch is to amend the Iowa Constitution to protect marriage from the courts.
Salier was outraged and went on Steve Deace’s WHO radio show to vent:
“When the governor stands up and says ‘I will not enforce this order.’ When the statehouse stands up and says this [law] is still on the books, and county recorders will abide by the law that is still on the books. That is the end game,” Salier said Wednesday on Steve Deace’s WHO-AM radio program. “So what if the court comes up and says ‘Uh uh.’ That’s all they can do. They don’t have any authority in this matter. They don’t have the guns, they don’t have the money. The statehouse and the governor control the law. We control them.”
Todd Dorman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette had an excellent take on Salier’s fantasy world:
It will be a truly great day when Gov. Vander Plaats orders the National Guard to occupy the Judicial Building. Then we can have the kind of Venezuelan justice system Iowans have been yearning for.
We can laugh, but Deace’s audience is huge. Tens of thousands of Iowa Republicans heard Salier last week, and who knows how many agree with his legal theory. I am curious to see how far Salier is willing to take his threats. He and several other conservative evangelicals have already warned Iowa House and Senate Republicans that those who don’t fight hard enough against gay marriage during next year’s legislative session may face primary challenges.
On Deace’s show Salier upped the ante by saying someone should challenge King in a Republican primary if the congressman backed off on confronting the Iowa Supreme Court “because he read the political tea leaves.”
Since when does Steve King “read the political tea leaves” before shooting off his mouth? We’re talking about a “jackass award” winning, “worst person in the world” honoree here. 2laneIA covered King’s “greatest hits” in this diary last year, and he keeps the ridiculous statements coming. Just last month, King claimed the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act would provide “special protection to pedophiles,” an assertion that Politfact.com found worthy of its “Pants on Fire” label.
Salier truly is the wingnuttiest of them all. Speaking of which, for a window onto the hard-core conservative mindset, I recommend reading the comment thread under The Iowa Republican blog’s post on Salier v. King. “ConservativeThinker” believes in the Salier approach, but he had no answer for the simple question posed by “Constitution Daily”:
ConservativeThinker – what happens when the court decides in favor of the 2nd Amendment and our liberal governor and legislator decides to ignore the ruling?
No worries, Constitution Daily, we’ve been there, and liberals did not call for ignoring a Supreme Court Second Amendment decision that overturned the will of Washington, DC’s elected representatives.
I never thought I’d see the day when Steve King defenders look like the reasonable ones in a clash among Republicans.