Legislators Call For Judge Piazza Impeachment After Gay Marriage Ruling

by Ryan Saylor ([email protected]) 139 views 

Ryan Saylor with our content partner, The City Wire, reports:

At least one member of the Arkansas House of Representatives has confirmed that he is pursuing impeachment against Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza following his ruling Friday (May 9) that overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage. But the speaker of the Arkansas House has vowed to block any such impeachment proceedings.

According to Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, he has been in touch with unnamed members of the House who are interested in pursuing the charges against Piazza.

“I was contracted earlier this morning (May 10) by some of the House members who are inquiring as to whether or not that could be done,” he said. “The procedure is that the House of Representatives would bring impeachment (charges) against any elected official or judge who has violated their oath to uphold the Arkansas Constitution.”

Once charges are brought, a trial would take place in the Senate.

Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, confirmed that he would pursue impeachment of Piazza, though he has not been part of an organized group of other representatives pushing for impeachment.

“We ask you to interpret the Constitution,” he said of judges. “It kind of opened my eyes to how important circuit judges are. But to have total disregard of our Constitution, that’s why I would move forward with impeachment and going toward that.”

Rep. David Meeks, R-Conway, is another representative in favor of impeachment.

“Based on yesterday’s ruling and how it was done, yes, I would generally be in support of impeachment,” he said.

Speaker of the House Davy Carter, R-Cabot, and Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, reacted harshly to the calls for impeachment.

“Notwithstanding the controversial subject matter of the decision, we are not going to impeach the circuit judge because members of the House don’t like the decision,” said Speaker Carter. “That’s just not going to happen. That’s a slippery slope. That’s why we have separation of powers. That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.”

Carter continued, again stating, “I’m telling you that it’s not going to happen.”

He said such a move would fundamentally challenge the Constitutionally-established separation of powers in Arkansas and the United States.

“The General Assembly can’t set precedent. I don’t even know how you would do that. I don’t know if it’s possible. That’s so far outside the boundaries of how this country has ran itself for centuries with separation of powers. I can’t even get my mind around that concept to start impeaching circuit judges because we don’t like their decisions. That’s absurd. There’s an election process. We have circuit judges that are elected, the Supreme Court, the appellate level. That’s the way it works,” Carter said.

“No, because when it comes to the judiciary, you don’t try to impeach a judge just because you don’t agree with his ruling,” said Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample. “That’s what the appeals process is for. That’s the path we already know is going to be pursued.”

Read much more on the subject at this link from The City Wire.