Iowa Supreme Court Hears Case on Juvenile Home

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Supreme Court is considering the case of the closing of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.

Gov. Terry Branstad issued an executive order closing the facility after a report detailed the excessive use of isolation rooms at the home.

Several lawmakers sued to keep it open. They argue the governor violated Iowa's constitution because the legislature had already approved funding to operate the facility. A district judge ruled in their favor and ordered the home to be reopened.

The Branstad administration appealed, which led to Tuesday night's Supreme Court hearing.

“There has to be some...essentially some motive to circumvent the process or to undermine the fundamental purposes of the statute and we would argue that in this case in part because the way the process started that is exactly what Governor Branstad was trying to do was to honor the fundamental purpose of the statute and look out for the kids,” argued Branstad’s attorney Jeffrey Thompson.

The plaintiffs admitted it is likely too late to reopen the home. However they are hoping for a ruling that would prevent Gov. Branstad from doing the same thing at another state facility, including Gov. Branstad's proposal to close two state mental health facilities.

“I can tell you right now we have Cherokee, Independence, Clarinda. Those are being shutdown, there's funding for those that’s a real thing happening.  And maybe they'll work it out, because theoretically I could bring a lawsuit on that right now,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Hedberg.

The Department of Human Services says Hedberg misspoke and only the Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant facilities are being closed.

A ruling on the juvenile home isn't expected for several weeks.

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