GOP lawmaker urges 'serious consideration' to impeaching Gov. Haslam

GOP lawmaker urges 'serious consideration' to impeaching Gov. Haslam

July 15th, 2015 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

NASHVILLE -- Furious at Republican Gov. Bill Haslam for having "bowed down" to the U.S. Supreme Court on the same-sex marriage ruling, a tea party-style GOP Tennessee lawmaker wants colleagues to give "serious consideration" to removing the governor from office.

In his Facebook posting Monday night, state Rep. Rick Womick, R-Murfreesboro, brought up impeachment as he shared a link to MSNBC liberal talk show host Chris Matthews' "Hardball" page, which featured a video of South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright attacking the legalization of same-sex marriage during a debate on the Confederate flag.

Tennessee Rep. Rick Womick, R-Vockvale, called for the impeachment of Gov. Bill Haslam on his Facebook account.

Tennessee Rep. Rick Womick, R-Vockvale, called for the...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Gov. Bill Haslam

Gov. Bill Haslam

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

In the post Womick said, "And where is Tennessee's leadership oh that's right our Governor bowed down to the five self appointed gods in black robes just minutes after they issued their 'opinion!'"

Womick went on to charge that Haslam "changed Tennessee state law and our State Constitution without ever consulting with the General Assembly. I think it's time to give serious consideration to impeachment hearings against Gov. Haslam and these five rogue SCOTUS justices!"

Following the Supreme Court's decision, Haslam and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, a fellow Republican, said they disagreed with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling but noted the state had no choice but to follow the ruling.

The decision voided the Tennessee Constitution's ban on same-sex marriage. Slatery advised county clerks, who issue marriage licenses, to obey the law. In order to comply with the law, the administration has extended health insurance to state workers who are in same-sex marriages.

Efforts to reach Womick were unsuccessful.

Haslam spokesman David Smith had no comment on Womick's Facebook posting. Asked whether Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell planned to join with Womick on exploring impeachment, a top Harwell aide said, "No, she's not."

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said of Womick that "maybe he just got a little carried away. I wouldn't be in favor of that [impeachment]. I wasn't sure what the charge was or the reasoning behind it was. I assume it was complying with the Supreme Court decision."

"I don't think the governor has a choice," McCormick added.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini said such talk from Womick should come as no surprise.

"It's typical," she said. "He may want to look into how our government actually works before he says outrageous things like this. There's a reason why we have a system of checks and balances. There's plenty of times I've disagreed [with Supreme Court decisions] but that's how our government is set up."

This isn't Womick's first dust-up with Haslam. Last year, Womick called Haslam a "traitor to the party" over what he charged were efforts by a political action committee with ties to Haslam which targeted several Republican critics of Haslam in GOP primaries over issues like Tennessee Common Core education standards.

Womick also challenged Harwell's renomination for speaker in the House Republican Caucus and lost.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550.