Being a member of both the Godless professoriate and a liberal ex-journalist, I’m probably just the kind of guy your conservative Christian parents warned you about when they packed you off to college. But I’m really not a bad guy, definitely not the creeper my college-age sons accuse me of being.
When not plotting the end of the world, I go to my local coffee spot to write syllabi, answer e-mails and do the various tasks of small-college administrivia. On Thursday, though, a group of self-identified conservative Christians seeking to impeach the remaining Iowa Supreme Court justices took the table next to me and spent about 90 minutes talking about their prospects for success.
Let me be clear: I was there first.
The group, which included at least one staffer from the Iowa Family Policy Center, was joined later by Kim Pearson, the Tea Partying soon-to-be state representative from Pleasant Hill who describes herself at her website as “not part of the political establishment” but at the same time “a part of the great patriotic awakening that is happening across our state and country.”
“I am a wife and mother who is passionate about God, family and our country,” she further panders at her site, drawing an apparent distinction with her Satanic, family-hating, pro-French opponents.
Pearson is one of three newbies in the Iowa House who are planning to push for impeachment of the remaining four justices of the Iowa Supreme Court. Their crime: Following the Rule of Law rather than the Rule of One Particularly Addled Brand of Conservative Christianity.
Having demanded that Iowans vote on whether to keep three justices in office after they found that the Iowa Constitution prohibits a ban on gay marriage, Pearson and the others at the table now don’t have the patience to let the same process work with the remaining justices. We can’t wait for another election, they say, so let’s run them out of town now.
Why have conservatives grown impatient with letting people vote on retaining justices? Perhaps because they’ve realized that their gun had only three bullets in it:
- Terry Branstad, who kept quiet on retention during the fall campaign to keep the largely north-of-I-80, west-of-I-35 crowd behind him in his successful campaign for governor, now says he can’t see any legitimate reason to impeach the remaining justices.
- And polls show that nonconservatives are more comfortable with gay marriage the longer it’s legal and most people realize it’s no threat to them. In other words, the longer conservatives wait to present these questions to the public, the more likely it is that they’re going to lose.
Over coffee with her fellow travelers, Pearson fretted that Branstad will sell out social conservatives. “The people who don’t think the justices broke the law don’t understand what law is,” she said. “They broke the moral law.”
Earlier, the IFPC types were strategizing how to make Iowa politicians aware that they’re beholden to The Truth. Not Diverse Truth. Not Multiple-Perspective Truth. Just The Truth. And, indeed, the organization links from its website to The Truth Project, which will give you an idea of what kind of truth they’re thinking should be established as The Truth.
The Panera conversation at times took place in hushed tones, which is understandable given Pearson’s statement at the table that she’s been labeled “the daughter of Satan, a wacko and uneducated.“ (At least the last part is demonstrably false: Pearson has a law degree from the University of Iowa.)
“They are so intolerant!” she added, apparently a reference to those of us who don’t believe that politics by pitchfork is good policy.
The odds of the justices being removed from office are remote. Impeachment theoretically could clear the House, where Republicans will hold a 60-40 advantage, but Democrats control the Senate 26-24 and it seems likely that the senators won’t go along. (Though one coffee klatcher expressed hope that the Holy Spirit would help the senators see The Truth in this matter.)
But ideological and theological purity matters more to this crowd than getting something done. For her part, Pearson is unbowed when it comes to impeachment: “Anyone who thinks we’re going to be bipartisan on this is on the losing side,” she said. “There will be no compromises.”
No compromises? None? No consideration of the views of the nearly half of Iowans who voted against throwing any justices out of office?
This is the woman the people of eastern Polk County have sent to the Statehouse. They need to keep an eye on her. We all do.
Here’s Pearson on election night last fall: