Three former Iowa judges who struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage are being honored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, CBS News reports. Caroline Kennedy, the only surviving child of John F. Kennedy, will celebrate what would have been her father’s 95th birthday by presenting the JFK Profile in Courage Award to former Iowa Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and justices David Baker and Michael Streit.
In April 2009, Ternus, Baker and Streit led the Iowa Supreme Court to a unanimous decision legalizing marriage equality. They ruled that a state law restricting marriage to straight couples violated Iowa’s equal protection clause. The following year, marriage equality opponents raised approximately $1 million for a campaign that successfully ousted the trio.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Kennedy praised the judges for their stance to uphold the Iowa constitution despite this opposition.
“[They] knew when they were writing this decision that it was gonna be a pioneering decision and a landmark decision and would face a lot of popular opposition,” Kennedy said. “They also were following very carefully the Iowa constitution and the rights that it gives to its citizens.”
Ternus, Baker and Streit did not fight the 2010 efforts against them because they didn’t want to politicize the judiciary, another move lauded by Kennedy. She cautioned that bipartisan attacks and heavy campaign spending could taint the independence of the judiciary on both state and national levels.
“[We're seeing] increased amounts of money in legislative races, now we are getting to see it in the judiciary where it has a much more dangerous effect because those are not supposed to be politicized races,” Kennedy said.
“[The former judges are] courageous on many levels,” Kennedy added. “…Like many of the people who get this award, they don’t consider that they are doing anything particularly courageous, they just feel they’re doing what’s right, they’re doing their job.”
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