On June 19, however, the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, Mark Cady, banned all weapons in county courthouses (not including peace officers on duty.
The claimed reason for the order was to institute a comprehensive and uniform statewide policy prohibiting weapons in the state’s court houses. Iowa had a mixed bag of regulations governing firearms in courthouses across the state; some where guns were prohibited by the chief judge in the county, and some where weapons were allowed.
Chief Justice Mark Cady says in his order that after reviewing the policies on guns across the state he found 44 of the 99 counties prohibit weapons in courthouses, 11 prohibit them in all county building sand sixteen prohibit weapons on in areas controlled by the judicial branch.
Accordingly, under our constitutional authority and responsibility to supervise and administer Iowa’s district courts, the supreme court now orders that all weapons are prohibited from courtrooms, court-controlled spaces, and public areas of courthouses and other justice centers occupied by the court system. This order does not affect the authority of county or city officials to determine appropriate employment policies for their employees in county and city offices located in courthouses and other justice centers. This order also does not affect the authority of peace officers to carry weapons in courthouses and justice centers while performing law enforcement duties. The chief judge of each judicial district is authorized to work with county and city officials as well as courthouse and public building security committees to develop additional policies and procedures necessary to implement this supervisory order. This order applies to the Judicial Branch Building.
It’s legal for the Chief Justice of Iowa to do this because the Iowa courts are a separate and co-equal branch of Iowa’s government, not a lower level of government such as county, town, or city.
A similar situation occurred in Arizona a couple of decades ago. Early in the 1990’s I could and did carry weapons into the county courthouse without any problems. I seldom carried into a court room, because I had no reason to go there.
A notorious double murder was committed in Yuma County, and the county Chief Justice banned citizens from carrying weapons in the courthouse during the trial. The Chief was well known for his anti-Second Amendment proclivities. Metal detectors and armed guards were installed at considerable expense.
After the trial, the precautions were kept in place. The Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court issued a similar order to that of the Iowa’s, except that he left the issue up to the county Chief Justices.
The separation of powers is an integral part of the checks and balances that keep state and federal governments from becoming tyrannical. The difficulties that result from banning people from exercising their Second Amendment rights in courthouses versus court rooms can be mitigated. Arizona requires public buildings that ban the carry of guns to have facilities to “check” carried guns. Such a system could be implemented in Iowa as well, if the legislature so desires.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.