Who is the most clueless Iowa legislator?

A couple of years ago, I would have said State Representative Dwayne Alons (House district 4). Longtime Bleeding Heartland readers may remember Alons as the guy who asserted during a committee hearing on greenhouse gas emissions that global warming would be good for Iowa because warmer temperatures helped ancient Mayans grow taller and stronger than today’s men and women. The following year, Alons remarked, “We shouldn’t be as concerned, actually, about warming, especially now that we have modern refrigeration and air conditioning.”

Alons sets the bar high in terms of cluelessness, but after reading this piece by Jason Hancock today, I think State Representative Jason Schultz (House district 55) could give him a run for his money. Schultz has introduced House File 2313, which stipulates,

 1  1    Section 1.  NEW SECTION.  602.1100  Judicial authority.

 1  2    1.  A judicial officer shall not use judicial precedent,

 1  3 case law, penumbras, or international law as a basis for

 1  4 rulings.  A judicial officer shall only use the Constitution

 1  5 of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Iowa,

 1  6 and the Code of Iowa as the basis for any ruling issued by such

 1  7 judicial officer.    The only source material that may be used

 1  8 for interpreting the Constitution of the United States by a

 1  9 judicial officer in this state shall be the Federalist papers

 1 10 and other writings of the founding fathers to describe the

 1 11 intent of the founding fathers, and if such source material is

 1 12 used, the full context of the source material must be used by

 1 13 the judicial officer.

 1 14    2.  This section is not reviewable by the court.

 1 15    3.  A violation of this section by a judicial officer shall

 1 16 be considered malfeasance in office and subjects the judicial

 1 17 officer to impeachment under chapter 68.

Bad ideas are not in short supply at the Iowa Capitol, but Schultz has taken things to a new level of stupidity here. No precedent and no case law, really? I have never heard of a so-called “strict constructionist” who would prohibit judges from citing previous court rulings in forming their opinions. In effect, Schultz is saying judges have to reinvent the wheel in almost every case. Yet conservative jurists usually lean toward respecting precedent.

Schultz would not allow any judge to consult historians’ work on the Constitution or the Federalist Papers either, as if there can be no ambiguity about what 18th-century language was meant to convey.

Mr. desmoinesdem reminds me that even U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a critic of citing foreign law in U.S. courts, has cited international law before when interpreting a treaty. In a recent case Scalia even cited the Babylonian Talmud, which is more than 1,000 years old.

If you’re wondering why Schultz wants to ban “penumbras,” that term alludes to the idea that there is a right to privacy, even though the Bill of Rights does not contain the word “privacy.”

Schultz’s bill isn’t going anywhere, and Drake University law professor Mark Kende notes that it would be unconstitutional in any event.

Like many Iowa Republicans, Schultz appears not to have a solid grasp of the judicial review concept. His support for a bill that would restore elections for Iowa Supreme Court justices indicates that he’s not sold on judicial independence. But even in the context of bad Republican ideas, House File 2313 stands out. Schultz is angry that the Iowa Supreme Court cited Iowa case law in its Varnum v Brien ruling last year, so the solution must be to ban judges from considering case law.

Not only is Schultz ignorant, he also demonstrated an impressive mean streak by introducing a bill this session “that would remove protections for gay, lesbian and transgender students from an anti-bullying law passed in 2007.” (More on that here.)

Iowa politics-watchers, who do you think is the most embarrassingly ill-informed member of the Iowa legislature? Make your case in this thread or e-mail me confidentially: desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com.  

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  • for those of you REALLY in the know....

    there is no contest…ask ANY legislator in private….

    Staci Appel is the mose embarrassingly ill-informed member..and wins this title going away.

    That question was easy.

    • sorry, no

      Name one bill Staci Appel has introduced or voted for that is anywhere near this level of ignorance (judges shouldn’t use case law).

  • sorry........

    your question didn’t have limitations as to “legislation introduced”.

  • Rep. Ralph Watts

    at least deserves a special mention.  The guy is an electrical engineer by training and has worked for a utility.  But when there were hearings on energy efficiency legislation a couple of years ago, the man did not even appear to understand the very basics of how energy savings are calculated over the life of an energy improvement.  If the man really is that clueless, he should be barred from practicing any kind of engineering in Iowa.  Of course, I suspect his cluelessness was a pure ideology-driven distraction tactic that can be expected from a person who was distributing kooky climate change denial books to his fellow legislators.

  • Must be something in the air

    Schultz is from Schleswig which is only about 10 miles from Kiron.  Steve King is the Kook from Kiron.  This should help confirm Schultz as the most clueless.

  • Kent Sorenson

    Perhaps too obvious of a choice, but true nonetheless.  I spoke with him Wednesday (as well as Sen. Appel, who was gracious and welcoming and seemed intelligent) for One Iowa’s lobby day.  I will grant that he was courteous and willing to speak to us.  However, he kept saying that he was “more of a Libertarian” and that’s why he opposes marriage equality.  Does he know what Libertarian means?  Marriage equality is at its core a libertarian issue more than a Democratic one.  More than this example, I just got an overwhelming feeling of “this guy is a moron”.  His logic is circular and he is flat wrong in his claim of how the Judicial branch works.  Needless to say, I will be working for and contributing to Sen. Appel.

    • yes, he is a contender too

      It’s fitting that Sorenson, Schultz and Alons all introduced the bill on electing Supreme Court justices.  

  • Lenny Boswell..

    Since he thought he could take me outside and kick my ass what with him being 70 years of age or so.  

    No wait, you said STATE legislators.  

    Sorry, none of them have offered to “take it oustide” with me so they could attempt to kick my ass.  

    Thus far.

    Well, except for that one time I tossed some rotten stinky potatoes over the fence into Ed Fallon’s compost heap.  

    hee-hee Now that was funny!

    • Leonard threatened you?

      Please do share and I’m not trying to drub up an old story or start a food fight about Boswell.  

      • At a meeting with anti-war activists

        and others in his DM office several years ago…  Leonard was waxing poetic about his place on an intelligence subcommittee.  I suggested that it takes a great deal of moral courage to stand up to the powers that be. At that point he got red in the face and basically went off on a rant about how dare I challenge his courage, etc…

        After the meeting ended, he suggested in a personal aside that maybe we should “step out back” to settle the issue of whether or not he has any courage.

        That’s the bare facts.  

  • LOL

    I think Leonard’s a good dude, he shouldn’t stress himself out like that.  

    • I THOUGHT he was...

      but geesh. Get a freakin’ grip, dude.  

      Ok, so a bit of a correction and addendum. To make sure I recalled the events clearly, spoke to a friend who was there that day.  There was an apology made by his staff to another person who tangled with him at the time.  For the record, I personally never got an apology for his behavior.