A Missouri state legislator has announced that he plans to file articles of impeachment against Governor Jay Nixon during the coming session of the Missouri General Assembly. State Representative Nick Marshall
of Parkville says he is taking the action because of Governor Nixon's recent executive order concerning the subject of so-called same-sex "marriage."
Nixon's executive order instructed Missouri Department of Revenue officials to allow same-sex "couples" who claim they have been "married" in another state to file joint tax returns in the state of Missouri.
"I think the Constitution in Missouri is very clear that to be valid and recognized, a marriage must be between a man and a woman," Representative Marshall says. "To me this issue has nothing to do with gay marriage, but whether or not an executive can simply issue a ruling that goes against the stated will of the voters and the language of the Constitution."
Marshall makes reference to the Missouri Marriage Amendment, adopted by Missouri voters in August of 2004, which enshrined the historic definition of marriage in Missouri's Constitution. Missouri voters endorsed the measure by a decisive vote of 71 to 29 percent.
"The Governor's use of this executive order is just another example of his willful disregard of the the confines of the law," Marshall continues. "He has openly disregarded the laws and Constitution of our state and allowed his Administration to do so on multiple occasions. If we are to live under the rule of law, he cannot be allowed to remain in office."
In his executive order, Nixon re-defined the terms "husband" and "wife" in Missouri tax law to include same-sex individuals and "spouses" who have been lawfully "married" in another state. Nixon claimed that
this was necessary because of a recent Internal Revenue Service ruling that made the same changes in the federal tax code.
Yet the provisions of Missouri's tax code as outlined in state statutes are subject to the overarching language of Missouri's Constitution. Neither the Legislature nor the Governor can enact laws or implement policies that are inconsistent with the language of the Constitution.
Under Missouri's Constitution, a Governor can be impeached for "crimes, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office."
Nixon is certainly guilty of misconduct in defying the express will of the voters as articulated in the Supreme
Law of our state. He is also clearly guilty of "willful neglect of duty," in his failure to protect and defend the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.
Article VII of Missouri's Constitution states that the Missouri House has "the sole power of impeachment." Were the House to vote (by a simple majority) to impeach the Governor, the case would be tried before "a special commission of seven jurists" to be chosen by the Missouri Senate. The Governor would only be convicted if five of the seven commissioners found him guilty of an impeachable offense.
In the meantime, State Representative Chuck Gatschenberger
of Lake St. Louis has called on Attorney General Chris Koster to issue an attorney general's opinion concerning the legality of Governor
Nixon's action. Gatschenberger said he was "troubled" by Nixon's action, and believes the Governor ignored the Constitution in "allowing tax benefits to gay couples married in other states." House Speaker Tim Jones has also called on Koster to issue a legal opinion on the issue.
While Koster has yet to issue any formal attorney general's opinion, he did state through a spokeswoman that "Governor Nixon appears to be following the requirements of Missouri law on tax filing, as passed by the Legislature."
Koster's comments reflect a totally political response that skirts the central issue. While the Governor's executive order reflects some aspects of Missouri law on tax filings, it stands in complete contradiction to the
language of the Constitution. The Attorney General knows full well that any and every state law is superseded by the provisions of the Missouri Constitution.
The Missouri Family Policy Council has sent a letter to Governor Nixon calling on him to rescind Executive Order 13-14. We will keep you posted on continuing developments on this subject.
You can let Governor Nixon know of your thoughts concerning his lawless behavior by using this link:Governor Nixon