Attorney will challenge authority of judge Reynolds belatedly appointed

Des Moines attorney Gary Dickey has asked Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness to take legal action challenging Jason Besler’s position as a District Court judge. As Bleeding Heartland reported last month, Governor Kim Reynolds named Besler to fill a vacancy four days after her constitutional authority to make the appointment had lapsed. Johnson County is part of Iowa’s Sixth Judicial District, where Besler has been presiding over cases.

Iowa’s Rules of Civil Procedure allow any citizen to file a quo warranto civil action charging that a defendant unlawfully holds a public office, if a county attorney fails to act. Dickey says he will proceed if Lyness declines to do so.

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Smooth sailing for Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention in 2016

Three of the seven Iowa Supreme Court justices who concurred in the historic Varnum v Brien ruling on marriage equality lost their jobs in the 2010 judicial retention elections. A fourth survived a similar campaign against retaining him in 2012.

The last three Varnum justices, including the author of the unanimous opinion striking down our state’s Defense of Marriage Act, will appear on Iowa ballots this November. At this writing, no one seems to be organizing any effort to vote them off the bench. Iowa’s anti-retention campaigns in 2010 and 2012 were well under way by the end of August, but the social conservatives who spearheaded those efforts have shown no interest in repeating the experience.

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Biden backs marriage equality--or does he?

Vice President Joe Biden appeared to make news on “Meet the Press” yesterday with a clear statement backing full marriage rights for same-sex couples. Obama administration staff immediately tried to deny that Biden had said anything newsworthy.

UPDATE: Added information below about the debate over endorsing marriage equality in the Democratic Party’s national platform and the honor three ousted Iowa Supreme Court justices will receive later today.

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Impeachment going nowhere and other Iowa Supreme Court news

Last week, a group of conservative Iowa House Republicans finally made good on their promise to introduce articles of impeachment against the four remaining Iowa Supreme Court justices who concurred in the 2009 Varnum v Brien decision on marriage. The impeachment bills won’t make it out of committee, let alone the Iowa House, but there may be some political fallout from the effort.

After the jump I examine the articles of impeachment, future prospects for their backers and recent news related to the 2012 judicial retention elections.

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Events coming up this week

Sometime this week the Iowa Senate will consider Senate File 390, the nuclear energy rip-off bill Bleeding Heartland discussed here and here. MidAmerican Energy, which would benefit from the bill, has given generously to Iowa legislators from both parties and to political action committees. Constituents need to urge senators to reject this bill, which would hurt consumers, or at least table it. MidAmerican is in only the first year of a three-year feasibility study on nuclear power in Iowa. The Senate switchboard number is (515) 281-3371, or you can e-mail your senator. The Sierra Club Iowa chapter created an easy e-mail form here and posted a four-page pdf with more background information: “MidAmerican Energy Company’s Misguided Pursuit of Nuclear Power: removing barriers, providing incentives, and skirting the existing regulatory process.”

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is hiring a Land Projects Associate to “provide support for 40-50 active land protection projects.” Click the link for the job description and skill requirements. Applications are due May 2. The 125-acre Bernau Prairie in Kossuth County is one recent example of a completed INHF land protection project.  

The Women, Food and Agriculture Network is accepting nominations for the second annual “Sustainable Farming Mom of the Year” award. Click here to view the 2010 finalists and winner. Nominations are due by 5 pm central time on Friday, May 6.

Trees Forever is seeking Iowans age 25 or younger to serve on its Youth Advisory Council. Applicants may be in high school, college or out of school. The Trees Forever site has more information on the council’s role.

Details on lots of events coming up this week are after the jump. Please post a comment or send me an e-mail if you know of another public event that should be mentioned here.

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