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DAVID ROSMAN: Impeaching Gov. Nixon might be too harsh a punishment

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA— It just so happened that I was listening to “The Best of Paul Simon” and “Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard” at the same time that I happened upon two stories in the Missourian. The stories were about Gov. Jay Nixon allowing same-sex couples married in other states to file their 2014 tax returns as “married” and the ensuing wrath of the GOP. Then came the song’s refrain: “It’s against the law; what mama saw; it’s against the law.”

"Mama" in this case came in the form of two lawmakers, Nick Marshall, R-Parkville, and Chuck Gatschenberger, R-Lake St. Louis.

Gatschenberger is calling for an investigation of Nixon’s recent order to the Department of Revenue to accept the status of “married” for same sex couples legally married in other areas, for example, Illinois or Washington, D.C.

Marshall is calling for the impeachment of the governor for accepting “joint tax filings from same-sex couples who are legally married, the release of the names of concealed gun permit holders to a federal agent and driver's license procedures.”

State statute says the impeachment process can happen only if the elected executive official, in this case Nixon, “shall be liable to impeachment for crime, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude, or oppression in office.” (RSMo 106.020)

Poor administrative direction is not covered in the statute and the term “misconduct” is not defined. So, did the governor overstep his authority with the order that marriage licenses legally issued by other states be recognized by the Missouri Department of Revenue for tax purposes? We recognize marriage licenses from other states of heterosexual marriages, so why not marriage licenses of same-sex couples? The law remains unclear.  

On one side we have a constitutional amendment denying marriage equality by declaring a marriage is between one man and one woman. On the other hand, by U. S. Supreme Court decision, the Defense of Marriage Act was declared unconstitutional, and the IRS is now permitting same-sex married couples to file their tax returns jointly. Because Missouri tax laws follow the federal tax law, Nixon has ordered the Department of Revenue to do the same.  

The question as to Nixon’s involvement in the distribution of conceal and carry gun permit holders’ data and driver’s license procedures is still in question and, if directly involved, may equate to a form of “misconduct” that is grounds for impeachment. However, the connecting theme concerns marriage equality, the letter of the law and the conflict with the state constitution.

Though Marshall told The Associated Press “that his motivations are not political gain or attention,” that is exactly why one would call for the impeachment or investigation, to gain a foothold as a strong right-wing conservative so he (or she) can hold his seat in the House and possibly move to the Senate or beyond.

An equal problem is the cost of the impeachment process and the unholy divide between the GOP and Democrats in both chambers of the legislature. The House will decide if there is enough evidence for the impeachment trial and then the Senate would appoint a “special commission” of “seven jurists” to try the cause.  (§106.080) Because of the makeup of both chambers, this would be a politically motivated action, not one of judicial review as any impeachment would require.

The process can take longer than the legislative session, would delay other needed and necessary legislation from being processed and would cost the taxpayers of Missouri a yet-to-be-calculated toll; money the states does not have to waste.

Although I do support marriage equality and the governor’s orders to permit joint returns for all married in other states, the question of the conflict is an important one to consider and should be left to the courts, not the legislative branches and their political agendas.

I believe that the call for impeachment is wrong but the call for judicial review is not. It is time for the courts to decide if Missouri’s Article 1, section 33, “That to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman,” meets the rule of federal law, or like DOMA, is discriminatory to one class of people.

David Rosman writes a weekly column for the Missourian. He is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.


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Comments

Michael Williams December 4, 2013 | 7:52 a.m.

"...that is exactly why one would call for the impeachment or investigation, to gain a foothold as a strong right-wing conservative so he (or she) can hold his seat in the House and possibly move to the Senate or beyond."
______________

Well, if I was an attorney, I'd yell, "Objection. Facts not in evidence! Rosman's conclusions have no support except what is in his biased head."

There should be no calls or causes for impeachment. Overall, I happen to think Nixon has done a decent job although I have intensely disagreed with him on a few issues, one of which is mentioned in Rosman's missive (which, if I had written it, would be termed a rant instead of a thoughtful missive...but that's another story).

It's interesting Rosman mentions two potential "problems", discrimination and gun-control information, yet calls only for judicial review of one of them. I guess he needed another example for his "missive", but wasn't ready to close the deal on one of them.

I'm suspicious of Rosman's quotes of Missouri statutes due to his repeated penchant for quoting only those sections of the US Constitution that pertain to his arguments. He leaves stuff out. I'm too lazy on this last day of good weather to check him out, but hopefully he's not continuing this trend now...or in the future. I probably shouldn't hold my breath.

Finally, Dave says, "Because of the makeup of both chambers, this would be a politically motivated action, not one of judicial review as any impeachment would require."

Which, of course, takes us full circle, back to my comment: ""Objection. Facts not in evidence! Rosman's conclusions have no support except what is in his biased head."

But, I can be guilty of these sorts of conclusions, too. For example, this man is teaching your kids in college....the "disclosure" at the bottom of this article tells us this information. Obviously, "Because of the makeup of [David's head}, this [classroom teaching] would be a politically motivated action.

But, then, I've never attended one of his classes. Nonetheless, in this public posting place, but I can sure make statements that pretend to know what is in his head and out of his mouth.......

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 4, 2013 | 1:55 p.m.

Michael:

While I agree with your comments, I'm surprised you bothered making them.

Today (Thursday, December 4, 2013) there are currently posted, or already have been posted, several news items presented on this newspaper's home page that are truly thought-provoking and could easily generate serious comment and debate. Why bother responding to silliness?

(Report Comment)
Betsy Murphy December 4, 2013 | 2:50 p.m.

Yes, Nixon deserves to be impeached, but not for any of the reasons cited. Hasn't anyone else noticed how hostile state government offices have gotten towards the general public since Nixon took over? You'd think we were enemy combatants the way we're treated when we question a tax assessment or even try to ask questions about Grandma's Medicaid coverage. State employees often won't even tell you their last names, much less tell you where their office is, and I've had them tell me to "f--- off" and keep their jobs after I complained to their supervisor. Hell yes - boot Nixon out of office, but for something a bit more substantive than the reasons cited by Dave!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 4, 2013 | 3:38 p.m.

Ellis: Because as you have so eloquently posted in the past, a bit of consistency would be nice.

Personally, I'd like a bit of intellectual honesty thrown in, too.

So far, it's been elusive.....

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 4, 2013 | 3:56 p.m.

Mike, the first state statute that David quoted is mostly intact. The second reads in full:

"106.080. If the governor or a judge of the supreme court shall be impeached, the house of representatives shall immediately transmit such articles of impeachment to the senate who shall, without delay, proceed to the election of a special commission to try the cause, which commission shall be composed of seven eminent jurists, who at the time of their election are judges of the circuit or appellate courts of this state; provided, however, that judges of the supreme court shall not be eligible to serve on such special commission. The commission shall meet in the City of Jefferson within thirty days after their election on a day designated by the senate."

I think David's claim that "Because of the makeup of both chambers, this would be a politically motivated action, not one of judicial review as any impeachment would require." is not accurate since the legislators themselves are not the judge and jury, as it is with the feds.

I would also point out this one amusing bit from the state statutes. It doesn't impact these cases at all, just made me chuckle:

Serving of summons.
106.100. The notices as required by sections 106.070 and 106.090 shall be served on the accused personally, if he can be found; and if he cannot be found, then by leaving a copy of such summons and articles of impeachment at his dwelling house or usual place of abode, with some member of the family above the age of fifteen years.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 4, 2013 | 4:09 p.m.

JohnS: Dave wrote, "Because of the makeup of both chambers, this would be a politically motivated action, not one of judicial review as any impeachment would require."

So, it appears it IS a judicial review! David once again didn't read the whole thing, catching the "seven jurists" but stopping there and omitting the "who at the time of their election are judges of the circuit or appellate courts of this state". You would think the word "jurists" would have been a clue.

Unfortunately, I'm not surprised as this. David is selective when it comes to support for his arguments.

Thanks for your input. I sure hope David prepares for his university classes better than he prepares here.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates December 4, 2013 | 7:50 p.m.

@Michael: I no longer bother to comment on his columns....

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 4, 2013 | 8:03 p.m.

Skip: That's probably a good decision.

(Report Comment)

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