• Iowa Supreme Court Admits Unconstitutional Behavior & Commits to Continued Judicial Overreach

    December 21, 2017

    There’s cause for alarm on the bench of the Iowa Supreme Court. Chief Justice Mark Cady and his fellow justices have doubled down on their baseless ban on the lawful carry of firearms in courthouses statewide. The complete disregard of separation of powers by a rogue justice should be cause for concern for all Iowans, whether you feel strongly about your Second Amendment freedoms or not.

    For context let’s review the chain of events that led to our current situation:

    January through April 2017
    The Iowa Firearms Coalitions lead the grassroots effort to pass House File 517 the largest pro-Second Amendment bill in Iowa history. HF517 includes preemption enhancements allowing citizens to sue local governments who violate section 724.28 of Iowa’s weapons law. The preemption portion of HF517 proposes that if a political subdivision — county, city, township, etc., — wrongly preempts state firearm law by passing local weapons bans citizens can sue the political subdivision in question for violating 724.28 and have the weapons ban removed.

    March 14, 2017
    David Boyd, Molly Kottmeyer, and Sydney Kronkrow, all state paid lobbyists working on behalf of the Iowa Supreme Court register against HF517 and begin working to try to stop its passage.

    April 13, 2017
    Governor Terry Branstad signs House File 517 into law. Included in the bill is the update to 724.28 Iowa’s weapons preemption law. This is a major victory for Iowans as citizens now have the ability to effectively challenge and override anti-Second Amendment local governments. Lobbyists for the Iowa Supreme Court have failed their attempt to stop HF517 from being enacted.

    June 19, 2017 – 11 days before HF517 takes effect
    Chief Justice Mark Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court issues a memo (available here) declaring that every courthouse, including common areas and standard business areas, are now a gun free zones. This is a critical sticking point as this overreaching memo includes the non-court related areas where Justice Cady and the Iowa Supreme Court have no jurisdiction.

    IFC’s initial statement on Mark Cady’s unconstitutional courthouse weapons ban, released less than 24 hours after it was announced.

    June 20, 2017
    The Iowa Firearms Coalition publicly calls out the Chief Justice Cady and the Iowa Supreme Court for overstepping the court’s constitutional authority. Their June 19th memo wrongly implied the Iowa Supreme Court could write law for areas of the courthouses they have no jurisdiction over, i.e.; all public, non-court related areas of a courthouse. The Iowa Firearms Coalition points out that if it’s not a courtroom, judge’s chamber or jury room the courts have no constitutional basis to dictate what happens there. These areas, such as the county auditor’s office, recorder’s office and so on, are controlled by the local government, not the courts and therefore fall under Iowa’s weapons preemption law.

    July 1, 2017
    HF517 takes effect in its entirety, yet courthouses across the state continue to unlawfully ban qualified, law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms in their facilities. They continue to do so under the misguidance of Chief Justice Cady and the Iowa Supreme Court.

    July through December 2017
    IFC lobbyists and legislative allies work on getting the Iowa Supreme Court to acknowledge they overstepped their constitutional authority and rescind and clarify their June 19th memo.

    December 19, 2017
    Chief Justice Cady issues another memo (available here) regarding courthouse security. Instead of rescinding the June 19th memo Cady doubles down by declaring the Iowa Supreme Court will continue with their unconstitutional courthouse weapons ban. The only exception will be if county supervisors from individual counties take the unlikely step of coming to the Iowa Supreme Court and requesting to have the weapons ban rescinded in public, non-court controlled areas of their specific courthouse.

    In summary:
    The Iowa Supreme Court does have jurisdiction over court areas such as courtrooms, judge’s chambers, jury deliberation areas and the like. However, the Iowa Supreme Court overstepped its authority on June 19th by declaring entire courthouses, including those non-court areas, as weapons-free zones. Something they have zero power to do. The Iowa Firearms Coalition has pointed this out, both publicly and privately. Yet when challenged Cady and his Supreme Court colleagues double down, issuing a new supervisory order saying effectively saying “We’re going to keep the baseless law we wrote (without any constitutional authority to do so). If you don’t like our edict, you may have your county supervisors come ask us to repeal it in your county only. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to (wrongfully) operate as if we have jurisdiction over non-court areas in courthouses throughout the rest of the state.”

    Why Should I Support Guns in a Courthouse?!?

    There’s no doubt that firearms can make some people uncomfortable especially in a court setting. But don’t let your feelings about firearms, whatever they are, keep you from seeing the more significant issue at play right now. The Iowa Supreme Court’s unconstitutional courthouse weapons ban is indicative of a much bigger problem in Iowa – a Supreme Court gone rogue.

    Realistically speaking there are two possible situations at play here. The best case scenario (and I use that phrase loosely) is that the Iowa Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Mark Cady, hasn’t read or doesn’t understand the US Constitution and the separation of powers laid out within it. Judges. Do. Not. Write. Laws. It’s as simple as that. This shouldn’t be anything earth-shattering, in fact, it’s high school civics class material. Yet writing their own law is precisely what the Iowa Supreme Court has tried to do in regards to how business is conducted in areas where they have zero jurisdiction. That’s scenario number one.

    Scenario number two is more likely, though it is significantly more alarming than ignorance. The scenario being the Iowa Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Mark Cady, has willfully chosen to ignore the Constitutional boundaries placed on their office to enact their  baseless edict. Then when a spotlight is shined on their unconstitutional activity, the Iowa Supreme Court doubles down by acknowledging their actions but refusing roll back their unconstitutional dictate. Instead, they put in place an onerous process that limits any possible change an extremely narrow scope. Effectively they’ve said “Yeah, we’ve done wrong and overstepped. But we’re going to keep doing wrong and if you want us to stop you can’t come directly to us. You have to have someone else ask us to stop. Now if you do that we’ll stop, but even then we’re going to continue doing wrong in every other community in the state.”

    Over the last several months, the Iowa Firearms Coalition and our allies have asked the Iowa Supreme Court to show us specifically where they derive the authority to dictate how business is conducted in non-court areas. This point of contention has been brought up numerous times and every single time the Iowa Supreme Court is left tongue-tied. No legal doctrine grants Mark Cady and or any of his fellow Iowa Supreme Court justices the legal ability to do what they’re doing.  The Iowa Supreme Court continues to run amok because the People of Iowa allow them to. Because the legal system is confusing. Because black robes are meant to intimidate. Because the judicial branch of government is one most normal people actively avoid. But if we don’t stand up to them, if we don’t remind these justices that judges don’t write laws, that legislating from the bench is inexcusable, that judicial overreach is not only unconstitutional it is intolerable these rogue justices of the Iowa Supreme Court will only be emboldened to go further at the next available opportunity.

    So What?

    What’s happening in the Iowa Supreme Court is wrong, and it is much bigger than whether or not you can carry a firearm when you go to the county courthouse to pay your taxes. This is indicative of a Supreme Court that believes it’s perfectly OK flaunting the fundamental rule of law laid out in the Constitution of the United States. Fortunately, though there’s another date on our timeline that’s fast approaching. One that the Iowa Supreme Court fears and actively wants to avoid.

    January 8, 2018
    The Iowa legislature reconvenes. There are numerous legislators who’ve taken note of Chief Justice Mark Cady and the Iowa Supreme Court’s cavalier behavior and wanton disregard for the Constitution. These legislators are eager to remind these rogue justices that it’s the Iowa legislature, not the Iowa Supreme Court that writes legal code in our state.

    This summer Sioux County Representative Skyler Wheeler put it nicely when he said: “If the Supreme Court wants to act like legislators they need to start getting paid like legislators.” The Iowa Firearms Coalition is not going to let this insult go unchecked. We’ve already begun to put wheels in motion to place much-needed boundaries on the Iowa Supreme Court and remind them of their place in our governmental system. Expect to see much more on this matter. Please join us and help us right this wrong.

     

  • These Representatives Need to be Thanked for Voting YES on HF517

    March 10, 2017

    Breaking Ranks on HF517

    The March 7th House vote on HF517, the Omnibus Gun-Owner Bill, saw the bill passed 58-39. Two Republicans, Reps. Heaton & Bergan, voted against the bill, and two Democrats, Reps. Ourth and Bearinger, voted for HF517.

    The left leaning Iowa politics blog Bleeding Heartland recently posted the following statements from Representative Scott Ourth about why he broke from the rest of the Democrats and voted in favor of HF517 (we’ve placed the critical statement in bold). These statements are extremely telling and we commend these Representatives on listening to their constituents

    The bill, in its original form, was absolutely horrible, and I was a definite “no” vote. What worried me was that the bill was going to pass in a form that would have been very dangerous, especially to children, college campuses, etc.
    Knowing that Rep. Windschitl was eager to show at least some bipartisanship on the bill, I sat down with him in an attempt to pull back on some of the extreme measures and add safety measures back in. In the end, I was able to get parental supervision redefined to mean close physical proximity conducive to hands-on instruction.
    Also, we got background checks at private gun sales put back in, along with a ban on firearms on college campuses and permits to obtain and to carry.
    In the end, I supported the bill for two reasons: I was invested in making the bill infinitely better (something way worse would have passed were it not for my collaborative efforts).
    Also, once the bill was modified I voted yes because it was representative of the wishes of the vast majority of the folks in my district. I got hundreds emails and phone calls urging me to vote “yes” and hardly any asking me to resist. So, in the end, I voted my district after crafting a bill that was far and away safer and more reasonable than what would have passed with out my offer of bipartisanship.

    NOTE: Rep. Ourth’s comment referring to background checks at private gun sales is in reference to Iowa’s Permit to Acquire system. An initial version of HF517 did away with the Permit to Acquire system all together. The House ultimately decided to keep the Permit to Acquire but lengthen it from one to five years. This Permit to Acquire extension is the only change to private gun sales in HF517.

    Bleeding Heartland also posted a statement from Representative (D) Bruce Bearinger about why he chose to vote yes on the bill:

    I worked with representative Ourth on the amendment to insure that parents had to be in proximity to the child to provide safety training to their child. In addition, they removed parts of the bill relating to college campuses, open carry, and permitting. I had some concerns with the final bill, but overall, it was consistent with the correspondence I had with many of my constituents. I rely on our democratic caucus analysis of legislation and have always found it to be valuable, but ultimately I rely on my own values and the extensive work I do to stay in tune with the desires and beliefs of my constituents in my rural district.

    Time for Thanks

    Below is the list of who voted in favor of HF517 when it passed out of the Iowa House of Representatives on March 7th. These 58 Representatives deserve your thanks for voting to protect and enhance the Second Amendment rights of all Iowans.

    It’s important that you take a moment to thank these legislators. Our side does an outstanding job of letting them know what we want (“pass this bill” -OR- “vote YES on HF517”), but it’s just as important that they are applauded for listening to us. We’ve posted the email addresses of everyone who voted YES on the bill at the bottom of this page. Please take a minute or two and send them a quick note of thanks.

    HF517 is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s been assigned to a subcommittee consisting of Senators Dan Dawson, Janet Peterson and Brad Zaun. As always the Iowa Firearms Coalition will be keeping you up-to-date whenever there’s activity related to pro-gun owner legislation.

    Defenders of HF517

    During the course of the House debate over HF517 several Representatives gave speeches in support of the bill. It’s important to note that this is not required, all a Representative has to do is vote yes or no, but the following Representatives went out of their way to try to convince their colleagues to vote Yes on HF517. They deserve to be recognized for their willingness to take a stand for pro-gun owner legislation.

    • Rep. Shannon Lundgren of Dubuque County – shannon.lundgren@legis.iowa.gov
    • Rep. Jake Highfill of Polk County – jake.highfill@legis.iowa.gov
    • Rep. Skyler Wheeler of Sioux County – skyler.wheeler@legis.iowa.gov
    • Rep. Steven Holt of Crawford County – steven.holt@legis.iowa.gov
    • Rep. Terry Baxter of Hancock County – terry.baxter@legis.iowa.gov
    • Rep. Matt Windschitl of Harrison County – matt.windschitl@legis.iowa.gov
      • Rep. Windschitl deserves extra thanks for not only floor managing HF517, he stood for the entire 4+ hour House debate, addressing bogus claims and correcting misleading statements being made by anti-gun owner Representatives.

    Also of note, Senators Brad Zaun and Dan Dawson were in and out all afternoon observing the House debate on HF517. Senator Dawson is floor managing the bill over in the Senate. He stayed and watched the entire four-hour debate in the House in preparation for discussion and debate in the Senate. This is very encouraging!

    Who Voted Yes on HF517

    Send a thank you note to these Iowa Representatives!

    EMAIL ADDRESSES OF HF517 YES VOTES:
    rob.bacon@legis.iowa.gov, chip.baltimore@legis.iowa.gov, clel.baudler@legis.iowa.gov, terry.baxter@legis.iowa.gov, bruce.bearinger@legis.iowa.gov, brian.best@legis.iowa.gov, jane.bloomingdale@legis.iowa.gov, jim.carlin@legis.iowa.gov, gary.carlson@legis.iowa.gov, peter.cownie@legis.iowa.gov, dave.deyoe@legis.iowa.gov, cecil.dolecheck@legis.iowa.gov, dean.fisher@legis.iowa.gov, joel.fry@legis.iowa.gov, tedd.gassman@legis.iowa.gov, pat.grassley@legis.iowa.gov, stan.gustafson@legis.iowa.gov, chris.hagenow@legis.iowa.gov, kristi.hager@legis.iowa.gov, maryann.hanusa@legis.iowa.gov, greg.heartsill@legis.iowa.gov, lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov, jake.highfill@legis.iowa.gov, ashley.hinson@legis.iowa.gov, steven.holt@legis.iowa.gov, chuck.holz@legis.iowa.gov, dan.huseman@legis.iowa.gov, megan.jones@legis.iowa.gov, bobby.kaufmann@legis.iowa.gov, david.kerr@legis.iowa.gov, jarad.klein@legis.iowa.gov, kevin.koester@legis.iowa.gov, john.landon@legis.iowa.gov, shannon.lundgren@legis.iowa.gov, dave.maxwell@legis.iowa.gov, andy.mckean@legis.iowa.gov, gary.mohr@legis.iowa.gov, norlin.mommsen@legis.iowa.gov, tom.moore@legis.iowa.gov, zach.nunn@legis.iowa.gov, scott.ourth@legis.iowa.gov, ross.paustian@legis.iowa.gov, dawn.pettengill@legis.iowa.gov, ken.rizer@legis.iowa.gov, walt.rogers@legis.iowa.gov, sandy.salmon@legis.iowa.gov, mike.sexton@legis.iowa.gov, larry.sheets@legis.iowa.gov, david.sieck@legis.iowa.gov, rob.taylor@legis.iowa.gov, linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov, guy.vander.linden@legis.iowa.gov, ralph.watts@legis.iowa.gov, skyler.wheeler@legis.iowa.gov, john.wills@legis.iowa.gov, matt.windschitl@legis.iowa.gov, gary.worthan@legis.iowa.gov, louie.zumbach@legis.iowa.gov