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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

House votes 44-25 for non-binding measure calling to impeach federal judges over gay marriage

There was bipartisan opposition from 11 Republicans and all 14 House Democrats, but the House voted 44-25 today in favor of HJM 4, Rep. Paul Shepherd’s non-binding memorial to Congress calling for impeachment of federal judges who rule in favor of same-sex marriage. “I think somehow, someday we’ve gotta take a stand,” Shepherd told the House. Shepherd gave several rambling speeches in defense of his measure, including one in which he said, “We’re a nation under God, one nation under God. So when you take Christian prayer out of school, as long as it’s a generic prayer and it’s not specific to any denomination, because our freedom of religion thing was to deal with different denominations, not whether we’re Christian or not.” Questioned by Rep. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, as to which federal judges he’d like to impeach and whether that would have included Justice Earl Warren, Shepherd said, “I wish it would’ve started with him,” because, he said, “I believe it was Earl Warren’s court who ruled to take the prayer out of schools, for example.”

In his closing debate, Shepherd, R-Riggins, told the House, “You can’t say an immoral behavior according to God’s word, what we’ve all been taught since the beginning, is something that’s just, and that’s really kinda what this is all about. … We’d better uphold Christian morals. As an example, how about fornication, adultery and other issues. And so Mr. Speaker, with that I’ll close my remarks, but I think it’s very important that we are doing our job when we uphold the traditional laws and the Constitution.”

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said the measure was based on a “fundamental error” about the role of the various branches of the United States government, including the judiciary. “What this memorial says is that we are so against gay marriage … we’ll try to impeach any judge who doesn’t see it our way, the way the Legislature of Idaho has it.” Rusche called that “distinctly different” from the legal role of the courts in the U.S.

Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, spoke in favor of HJM 4. “The thing that bothers me is that a small group of judges are ignoring the will of the people from several states,” he said. When Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, in mid-speech, shouted, “Two people who pro-create!” he was interrupted by House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, who admonished him, “We don’t need a biology lesson.”

Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise, who is gay, told the House, “Of all the bills that I’ve voted on in the last weeks, HJM 4 causes me the most hurt. … This bill is personal, and it hurts me. … This bill implies that my marriage isn’t worth as much as someone else’s.” He asked, “Is my marriage so despicable that a federal judge should be impeached? Ladies and gentlemen, I would never bring a joint memorial before you, or any piece of legislation, that would state or imply that someone else’s marriage is less than mine, and that’s why I’m hurt.”

Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, said the measure wasn’t “drafted in the best manner,” but he supported it. “It is in effect sending a message, and that message needs to be heard,” he said. Nye told the House the memorial “does not promote respect that we all need for our system, by the people we represent and work for.” He said, “I think we need to ensure continued respect for the bench and the independence of the judiciary.”

You can read my full story here at Here’s how the vote broke down:

Voting in favor: Reps. Anderson, Anderst, Andrus, Barbieri, Bateman, Batt, Boyle, Chaney, Cheatham, Collins, Crane, Dayley, DeMordaunt, Dixon, Gestrin, Harris, Hartgen, Hixon, Holtzclaw, Horman, Kerby, Loertscher, McMillan, Mendive, Miller, Monks, Moyle, Nate, Nielsen, Packer, Palmer, Raybould, Redman, Romrell, Scott, Shepherd, Sims, Thompson, Trujillo, VanOrden, Vander Woude, Wills, Youngblood and Bedke.

Voting against: Reps. Bell, Beyeler, Burtenshaw, Chew, Clow, Erpelding, Gannon, Gibbs, Jordan, Kauffman, King, Kloc, Malek, McCrostie, McDonald, Nye, Pence, Perry, Rubel, Rudolph, Rusche, Smith, Troy, Wintrow and Wood.

Absent: Rep. Luker.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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