Branstad names impeachment advocate to Judicial Nominating Commission

I knew that Governor Terry Branstad was trying to fill the State Judicial Nominating Commission with conservatives and big Republican donors.

I knew that Branstad liked naming former state legislators to prominent positions, sometimes without considering anyone else for the job, sometimes even when the former lawmaker hadn’t asked for the job.

But until yesterday, I never imagined that Branstad would consider a Judicial Nominating Commission an appropriate place for someone who tried to impeach Iowa Supreme Court justices over the Varnum v Brien ruling on marriage.  

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Cross Matt Strawn off the list of potential Iowa Republican candidates

Former Republican Party of Iowa Chair Matt Strawn’s name came up earlier this year as a possible candidate for U.S. Senate, but don’t expect him to be a serious contender for any statewide office in the foreseeable future. News broke yesterday that the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has hired the firm Strawn and two prominent Illinois Republicans founded earlier this year to to lobby GOP lawmakers in Illinois to support a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. This spring, Illinois appeared to be on the brink of adopting a marriage equality bill, but supporters never brought it up for a vote in the state House. They plan to try again when the legislature returns in November. Although Strawn’s partner Pat Brady, the former Illinois GOP chair, will do the heavy lifting on this job, social conservatives who dominate the Iowa GOP’s activist base will surely hold a grudge against Strawn.

I got a kick out of Craig Robinson’s rewriting of history yesterday, saying Strawn “abdicated” the Iowa GOP chairmanship, but that “some Iowa Republicans still consider him to have been a good chairman, especially in comparison to his successor.” Robinson was the loudest voice demanding Strawn’s resignation in the wake of the 2012 Iowa caucus vote-counting fiasco. Be careful what you wish for.

Iowa reaction to Supreme Court striking down DOMA (updated)

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The ruling means that legally married gay and lesbian couples in Iowa and elsewhere will be entitled to equal treatment under federal law. More than 200 Congressional Democrats, including Senator Tom Harkin and Representatives Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack, signed an amicus curiae brief urging justices to strike down the key provision of the DOMA, adopted in 1996 with overwhelming bipartisan support.  

In a separate case, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that backers of California’s Proposition 8 did not have standing to appeal a lower-court ruling striking down that ballot initiative. The decision means that LGBT couples will be allowed to marry in California. It does not affect other states’ statutory or constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Braley and Loebsack were among scores of Congressional Democrats who recently posed for the “NoH8” campaign supporting marriage equality and opposing Prop 8.

Excerpts from the DOMA decision and Iowa reaction to today’s rulings are after the jump. I will update this post as needed. At this writing, most of the Congressional delegation has not publicly commented on the Supreme Court decisions.

I also enclose below Democratic State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad’s reaction to yesterday’s disgraceful 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act.

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Five reasons Kraig Paulsen would struggle in an IA-01 GOP primary (updated)

Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen is thinking seriously about running for Congress in the open first district, covering 20 counties in northeast and central Iowa. He hasn’t given a timeline for making up his mind and has said he’s trying to figure out "what’s the best way to serve Iowans. What meets their needs?"

I would suggest that Paulsen consider this cold, hard reality: he is unlikely to serve Iowans as a member of Congress, because he would lose the GOP primary in IA-01.

UPDATE: Scroll to the end of this post for a sixth reason.

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Another Iowa Supreme Court ruling for equality (updated)

In a decision announced on Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for the Iowa Department of Public Health to refuse to list a non-birthing lesbian spouse on a child’s birth certificate. Details on this nearly unanimous ruling are after the jump. I was intrigued by how Governor Terry Branstad’s three appointees from 2011 handled this case.

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Supreme Court marriage linkfest: Federal DOMA doomed?

Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Windsor, a challenge to the constitutionality of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. Unlike yesterday’s hearing on California’s same-sex marriage ban, this case will affect many Iowans directly. The court’s ruling on DOMA will determine whether thousands of married LGBT couples in Iowa are eligible for benefits granted to married citizens under federal law.

Lots of links are after the jump, but the enduring sound bite from the day will surely be Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comment: “You’re saying […] there are two kinds of marriages, the full marriage, and this sort of skim milk marriage.”

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