Three Republican candidates for Arkansas Attorney General said they will follow the final decision issued by the state’s Supreme Court regarding a same-sex marriage challenge, but they urged caution on a possible impeachment of the judge who sparked the latest controversy.
Patricia Nation, David Sterling and Leslie Rutledge are all vying for the GOP nomination for Attorney General. They appeared together for a roundtable discussion on “Talk Business & Politics,” which airs Sundays at 9 am on KATV Ch. 7.
On Friday, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay of Judge Chris Piazza’s order overturning the state’s same-sex marriage laws and amendment. When asked how they would conduct themselves in the office of Attorney General, there was consensus that the decision from the state’s high court would be followed.
“As Attorney General if this ruling is upheld, the Attorney General must enforce the laws. I’m confident and very hopeful that this decision will not be upheld for a variety of reasons,” said Nation.
“The rule of law is what we’re going to follow here in Arkansas, and if the Supreme Court upholds it, I will follow Arkansas law as well,” said Sterling.
“If the state Supreme Court does uphold Judge Piazza’s ruling — which I don’t think the Supreme Court will do,” said Rutledge. “Having worked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals for a couple of years, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals they take a long time often to address these [cases] and I’m certainly glad that the court put a stay on the marriages. But if they do [uphold], as Attorney General, it will be my job to uphold the law.”
With many states dealing with same-sex marriage legal controversies, the U.S. Supreme Court is eventually expected to consider a case on the matter and may ultimately decide the law of the land. Judge Piazza cited the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in his ruling. All three Republican candidates said they would be willing to defend Arkansas’ law if it was routed to the federal court system.
On the potential impeachment of Judge Piazza — which state legislators led by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) are pursuing — the three candidates had slightly different takes.
“I would caution the Legislature not to overstep, but at the same time if they feel this is the judge overstepping, then they should look to impeachment and I would work with them,” Rutledge said.
“We have a system of checks and balances in place in our constitution and to the extent that the Legislature wants to check the Judiciary, I think that’s appropriate,” said Sterling. “Just like Judge Piazza checked the Legislature in issuing that opinion. So I don’t think it’s inappropriate for them to consider that.”
“I really do believe that the spirit of impeachment is correct because this decision overturned the will of the people and we decided overwhelmingly – as David said, over 75% of us under Amendment 83 want marriage defined in Arkansas as between a man and a woman,” said Nation, noting that Piazza has authority to declare an amendment unconstitutional. “I don’t think the impeachment process would go anywhere, but I certainly agree with the fact that overruling an act passed by Arkansas citizens overwhelmingly is certainly something that I highly disagree with.”
The winner of the GOP primary faces Democrat Nate Steel and Libertarian Aaron Cash in November.
You can watch video of their roundtable discussion in the video below.