Junkins v. Branstad, No. 86-1740

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtSNELL; All Justices concur except LAVORATO
Citation421 N.W.2d 130
PartiesLowell JUNKINS, State Senator; Don Avenson, State Representative; C.W. (Bill) Hutchins and Joe Welsh, State Senators; Robert C. Arnould, John H. Connors and Richard W. Welden, State Representatives; Individually and in Their Representative Capacity as Members of the 71st General Assembly of Iowa, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Terry E. BRANSTAD, Governor of the State of Iowa in his Official Capacity, Defendant-Appellee, James L. Beeghly, Judge; Louis F. Beisser, Judge; Michael S. Walsh, Judge; J.C. Irvin, Judge; Arthur Gamble, Judge; Paul J. Kilburg, Judge; James E. Kelley, Judge; and R. David Fahey, Judge, Intervenors-Appellees.
Decision Date16 March 1988
Docket NumberNo. 86-1740

Page 130

421 N.W.2d 130
Lowell JUNKINS, State Senator; Don Avenson, State Representative; C.W. (Bill) Hutchins and Joe Welsh, State Senators; Robert C. Arnould, John H. Connors and Richard W. Welden, State Representatives; Individually and in Their Representative Capacity as Members of the 71st General Assembly of Iowa, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Terry E. BRANSTAD, Governor of the State of Iowa in his Official Capacity, Defendant-Appellee,
James L. Beeghly, Judge; Louis F. Beisser, Judge; Michael S. Walsh, Judge; J.C. Irvin, Judge; Arthur Gamble, Judge; Paul J. Kilburg, Judge; James E. Kelley, Judge; and R. David Fahey, Judge, Intervenors-Appellees.
No. 86-1740.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
March 16, 1988.

Page 131

Dan L. Dudley of Murray, Davoren & Dudley, and Ann M. Ver Heul of Mumford, Schrage & Zurek, P.C., Des Moines, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Robert A. Van Vooren, Thomas J. Shields, and Thomas D. Waterman of Lane & Waterman, Davenport, and Barbara Brooker Burnett, Des Moines, for defendant-appellee.

John A. McClintock and David L. Brown of Hanson, McClintock & Riley, Des Moines, for intervenors-appellees.

Considered en banc.

SNELL, Justice.

On May 5, 1985, the Iowa Legislature passed Senate File 570, entitled

[a]n Act making corrections and other changes relating to court reorganization, court fees, court-imposed fines and costs and the suspension of motor vehicle licenses and the set-off of income tax refunds and rebates, administrative closures under chapter 601A, the ability to pay a criminal fine, the judicial retirement system, and other court procedures and making certain procedures retroactive.

That portion of the act which deals with the judicial retirement system provides the grist for the present case. This portion of the act, section 27, increased the required contributions by participating state court judges to the judicial retirement fund. See Iowa Code § 602.9104 (1985). This increase was to take effect July 1, 1985.

On May 24, 1985, defendant Governor Terry E. Branstad, invoking the authority of Iowa Constitution Article III, section 16, as amended, vetoed section 27. This constitutional provision grants the governor authority to "disapprove any item of an appropriation bill...." This action ensued. While it was pending in the district court, however, the legislature amended section 602.9104. This amendment returned the participating judges' retirement fund contributions to the level in effect prior to the passage of Senate File 570. See 1986 Iowa Acts ch. 1243, § 35 (codified at Iowa Code § 602.9104(1) (1987)). This legislation, which was subsequently signed into law by defendant Governor Branstad, became effective July 1, 1986, on a prospective basis only. See Iowa Code §§ 3.7, 4.5 (1985). Also in 1986, the legislature provided a statutory definition of an "appropriations

Page 132

bill." See 1986 Iowa Acts ch. 1245, § 2011 (codified at Iowa Code § 3.4 (1987)).

On July 10, 1985, plaintiffs, a group of state legislators, filed a petition for declaratory judgment against defendant Governor Branstad. The petition sought a declaration that Governor Branstad's May 1985 item veto of section 27 exceeded his constitutional authority. On August 30, 1985, eight Iowa district court judges filed their petition of intervention.

Plaintiffs filed an application for adjudication of law points on January 31, 1986, raising the constitutional issue. On June 18, 1986, defendant Governor Branstad filed a motion for summary judgment in which the intervenors subsequently joined. On August 11, 1986, plaintiffs filed their motion for summary judgment along with a resistance to defendant-intervenors' similar motion.

On October 14, 1986, a hearing was held on the motions for summary judgment and on plaintiffs' application for adjudication of law points. In the November 4, 1986, ruling, the district court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment. In granting the motion, the district court concluded the 1986 legislation rendered plaintiffs' declaratory judgment action moot. Although the 1986 legislation was to be applied prospectively only, and consequently would not control during the period between the vetoed legislation's effective date and July 1, 1986, the district court concluded that this issue was not properly raised by the petition. In light of this disposition, the district court found it unnecessary to rule on the remaining motion and application and, accordingly, did not do so. This appeal followed.

I. Our Scope and Standards of Review.

This action was brought at law. No party requested that the case be transferred to the equity docket. Ordinarily whether a declaratory judgment action is a legal or equitable proceeding is determined by the pleadings, relief sought, and the nature of the case. Citizens Sav. Bank v. Sac City State Bank, 315 N.W.2d 20, 24 (Iowa 1982). But, we have consistently held that we will consider and review a case on appeal in the manner it was treated below. Id. The present action was treated below as an action at law; accordingly, we treat it as such on this appeal. See, e.g., Iowa Elec. Light & Power v. General Elec. Co., 352 N.W.2d 231, 234 (Iowa 1984). Our characterization of the action as at law is perhaps a matter of only academic concern, however, as even in an equity case we cannot find facts de novo in an appeal from summary judgment. Lyon v. Willie, 288 N.W.2d 884, 894 (Iowa 1980).

Rather, our review is limited by well-established standards. Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 237(c) provides that summary judgment

shall be rendered ... if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.

In reviewing the grant of summary judgment under this rule, the question is whether the moving party demonstrated the absence of any genuine issue of material fact and showed entitlement to judgment on the merits as a matter of law. Suss v. Schammel, 375 N.W.2d 252, 254 (Iowa 1985); Brown v. Monticello State Bank, 360 N.W.2d 81, 83-84 (Iowa 1984). An issue of fact is "material" only when the dispute is over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit, given the applicable governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202, 211 (1986). The requirement of a "genuine" issue of fact means that the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d at 211-12. Our task on appeal is to determine only whether a genuine issue of material fact exists and whether the law was correctly applied. Adam v. Mt. Pleasant Bank & Trust Co., 355 N.W.2d 868, 872 (Iowa 1984). We examine the record in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion for summary

Page 133

judgment to determine if movant met his or her burden. Matherly v. Hanson, 359 N.W.2d 450, 453 (Iowa 1984).

II. The Summary Judgment Merits.

The district court concluded that the issue raised by the declaratory judgment action was rendered moot by the 1986 legislation. Such a characterization refers to cases which no longer present a justiciable controversy because the issues involved have become academic or nonexistent. E.g., In re E.C.G., 345 N.W.2d 138, 141 (Iowa 1984); Hamilton v. City of Urbandale, 291 N.W.2d 15, 17 (Iowa 1980). The test is whether a judgment, if rendered, would have any practical legal effect upon the existing controversy. E.g., Elview Const. Co. v. North Scott Community School Dist., 373 N.W.2d 138, 142 (Iowa 1985); Toomer v. Iowa Dep't of Job Serv., 340 N.W.2d 594, 598 (Iowa 1983).

Given this test, we cannot concur with the district court's conclusion. Although we agree the 1986 legislation resolved the issue for...

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40 practice notes
  • Hedlund v. State, No. 18-0567
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 28, 2019
    ...Cmty. Sch. Dist. , 549 N.W.2d 295, 300 (Iowa 1996) (same); Hike v. Hall , 427 N.W.2d 158, 159 (Iowa 1988) (same); Junkins v. Branstad , 421 N.W.2d 130, 132 (Iowa 1988) (en banc) (same); Kapadia v. Preferred Risk Mut. Ins. , 418 N.W.2d 848, 849–50 (Iowa 1988) (same); Behr v. Meredith Corp. ,......
  • Sallee v. Stewart, No. 11–0892.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 15, 2013
    ...when the dispute is over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit, given the applicable governing law.” Junkins v. Branstad, 421 N.W.2d 130, 132 (Iowa 1988). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Clinkscales v. Nelson Sec......
  • Varnum v. Brien, No. 07-1499.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 3, 2009
    ...only when the dispute is over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit, given the applicable governing law." Junkins v. Branstad, 421 N.W.2d 130, 132 (Iowa 1988). The party requesting summary judgment shoulders the burden to demonstrate no genuine issue of material fact exists. Hunte......
  • Des Moines Register and Tribune Co. v. Dwyer, No. 94-901
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 17, 1996
    ...only if the dispute involves facts which might affect the outcome of the suit, given the applicable governing law. Junkins v. Branstad, 421 N.W.2d 130, 132 (Iowa 1988). We additionally review the district court's decision to ensure that the court correctly applied the law. Iowa R.App.P. 4; ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
40 cases
  • Hedlund v. State, No. 18-0567
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 28, 2019
    ...Cmty. Sch. Dist. , 549 N.W.2d 295, 300 (Iowa 1996) (same); Hike v. Hall , 427 N.W.2d 158, 159 (Iowa 1988) (same); Junkins v. Branstad , 421 N.W.2d 130, 132 (Iowa 1988) (en banc) (same); Kapadia v. Preferred Risk Mut. Ins. , 418 N.W.2d 848, 849–50 (Iowa 1988) (same); Behr v. Meredith Corp. ,......
  • Sallee v. Stewart, No. 11–0892.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 15, 2013
    ...when the dispute is over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit, given the applicable governing law.” Junkins v. Branstad, 421 N.W.2d 130, 132 (Iowa 1988). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Clinkscales v. Nelson Sec......
  • Varnum v. Brien, No. 07-1499.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 3, 2009
    ...only when the dispute is over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit, given the applicable governing law." Junkins v. Branstad, 421 N.W.2d 130, 132 (Iowa 1988). The party requesting summary judgment shoulders the burden to demonstrate no genuine issue of material fact exists. Hunte......
  • Des Moines Register and Tribune Co. v. Dwyer, No. 94-901
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 17, 1996
    ...only if the dispute involves facts which might affect the outcome of the suit, given the applicable governing law. Junkins v. Branstad, 421 N.W.2d 130, 132 (Iowa 1988). We additionally review the district court's decision to ensure that the court correctly applied the law. Iowa R.App.P. 4; ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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