Iowa State Bar Association: Supermajority bill would 'violate' Iowans' rights

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) -- A bill is moving forward in the Statehouse that would radically change how the Iowa Supreme Court declares laws unconstitutional.

The bill would require justices to deliver a supermajority vote of 5-2 instead of a simple, 4-3 majority.

The Iowa State Bar Association calls the bill a "power grab," but bill sponsor Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola, argues the supermajority would “return” power back to the people.

Garrett said four judges on the Iowa Supreme Court wield too much power to overturn laws.

“They actually are substituting their personal opinions of what the Constitution of the state ought to be for what the intent of the people that wrote it was,” he said.

Right now, North Dakota and Nebraska are the only two states to require supermajorities to overturn laws.

“This is just a step to try to restore a little bit of the balance of power,” Garrett said.

The bill passed the Senate by a 26-24 margin, with all but three Republicans voting for and all Democrats against.

The Iowa State Bar Association is against the bill. Its president, Steve Eckley, said the bill would upend the constitution by tipping the balance of power between the three branches of government in favor of legislators.

“It's almost like changing the strike zone in a baseball game when you're up to bat and making the strike zone smaller when you're batting,” Eckley said. “It's likely that there will be legislation that will violate fundamental rights of Iowans guaranteed by our constitution and it will be upheld.”

The bill now moves onto the House of Representatives.

If signed into law, Eckley said he believes the bill would almost certainly face a court challenge.

A Supreme Court spokesperson said the court has no comment.

View the original story on KCCI's website.