Iowa Legislator Seeks To Bar Courts From Using Precedent or Case Law

Republican Iowa legislator Jason Schultz has introduced legislation to rid the state courts of the scourge of . . . precedent.

Schultz wants to pass a law that prohibits the “use [of] judicial precedent, case law, penumbras, or international law.” He does allow judges to continue to use ink.

Schultz would effectively gut the legacy of William Blackstone and over two hundred years of American jurisprudence. Under the bill, a court could not interpret ambiguities in a law. The system of appellate courts would be shattered since lower courts would not be able to rely on “case law” or precedent. No one seriously believes that this law will pass. There is sufficient adult supervision in Iowa to stop it. It is the legislative version of graffiti and shows the same type of senseless flailing that characterizes much of our politics today.

Schultz is a farmer. He is serving his first term in the Iowa House.

Here is his proposal:

A BILL FOR

1 An Act relating to judicial authority, and making penalties
2 applicable.
3 BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:

1 1 Section 1. NEW SECTION. 602.1100 Judicial authority.
1 2 1. A judicial officer shall not use judicial precedent,
1 3 case law, penumbras, or international law as a basis for
1 4 rulings. A judicial officer shall only use the Constitution
1 5 of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Iowa,
1 6 and the Code of Iowa as the basis for any ruling issued by such
1 7 judicial officer. The only source material that may be used
1 8 for interpreting the Constitution of the United States by a
1 9 judicial officer in this state shall be the Federalist papers
1 10 and other writings of the founding fathers to describe the
1 11 intent of the founding fathers, and if such source material is
1 12 used, the full context of the source material must be used by
1 13 the judicial officer.
1 14 2. This section is not reviewable by the court.
1 15 3. A violation of this section by a judicial officer shall
1 16 be considered malfeasance in office and subjects the judicial
1 17 officer to impeachment under chapter 68.
1 18 EXPLANATION
1 19 This bill relates to judicial authority.
1 20 Under the bill, a judicial officer shall not use judicial
1 21 precedent, case law, penumbras, or international law as a
1 22 basis for rulings. The bill specifies that a judicial officer
1 23 shall only use the Constitution of the United States, the
1 24 Constitution of the State of Iowa, and the Code of Iowa as the
1 25 basis for any ruling issued by such officer.
1 26 Under the bill, the only source material that may be used
1 27 for interpreting the Constitution of the United States by a
1 28 judicial officer in this state shall be the Federalist papers
1 29 and other writings of the founding fathers to describe the
1 30 intent of the founding fathers, and if such source material is
1 31 used, the full context of the source material cited must be
1 32 used by the judicial officer.
1 33 The provisions in the bill are not reviewable by the court.
1 34 A violation of this bill by a judicial officer shall be
1 35 considered malfeasance in office and subjects the judicial
2 1 officer to impeachment under Code chapter 68.
2 2 A judicial officer is defined in Code section 602.1101(7).
LSB 6124YH (2) 83
jm/rj

Kudos: Michael Patrick Maskell

48 thoughts on “Iowa Legislator Seeks To Bar Courts From Using Precedent or Case Law”

  1. This is obviously the brain child of the likes of Glenn Beck.

    http://www.livedash.com/transcript/glenn_beck/6528/FNC/Friday_January_29_2010/145287/

    “America, I… want to go to the law here. . . . . [Roscoe Pound] made the fundamental change in America. They no longer studied the Constitution or Constitutional law or the founders. They changed to study case law, which again no revolution. Just evolution. So we never, we slowly but surely keep moving away from the Constitution and the founders. And we end up just looking at the last case.”

  2. I doubt the legislation was thought through that deeply… However, dissatisfaction with Roe v. Wade is usually a prime motivation for those who rail against “judicial activism” and call for courts to change their behavior (not that they know how courts are supposed to behave).

  3. The use of the word “penumbra” makes me think that this is a backdoor attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade.

  4. Bob Esq.,

    One of the students who participated in the moot court, George Tod, went on to become a Supreme Court Justice in Ohio. He later was impeached by the House for declaring a law involving the right to a trial by jury unconstitutional, but was acquitted by one vote in Senate trial.

  5. No. Copy and paste the entire link into your browser. The entire link starts with “http” and ends with “4449”. For some reason, the “-” in the hyperlink messes with the wordpress formatting and causes it to crop the full link.

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