Iowans Oust Three of the Gay Marriage Legalization Supreme Court Justices

In 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion that legalized same sex marriage in the state. Opponents of the ruling eventually centered their discontent on a movement to vote each of the nine justices off the bench. A 1962 merit selection and retention system, which gives voters in Iowa the opportunity to remove judges from the bench, afforded them the means, and they carefully crafted a campaign to convince Iowans that the justices had subverted the will of the people as opposed to merely interpreting state law and its constitution.

Little hope of job retention

With polls closing, early returns indicate that the three justices who are up for retention this year will lose their seats on the court. Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice David Baker and Justice Michael Streit need a simple majority to retain their seats but with each lagging under 50%, it’s unlikely they will reach it.

Their removal marks the first time since the implementation of the retention system that any judge has been voted off the bench by Iowans.

Judges in Iowa are non-partisan and because of this the judges targeted by an anti-gay marriage faction lead by Bob Vander Plaat refused to campaign for their seats on the bench.  In exit polls 8 out of 10 Iowans seemed to believe that the judges had created a new law with their ruling on the legality of same sex marriage rather than simply interpret the State of Iowa’s existing laws and constitution.

by Peaco Todd

10 comments

Catherine D.
Catherine D3 years ago

TO: haval M. 2:46PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

The US judicial system does not work. Corruption has sunk to te level of a third world bananna republic. Worsely, even.

There are no laws that actually stop corruption.

Corruption only stops when people stop behaving corruptedly, and their chosen victims make them stop.


Catherine D.
Catherine D3 years ago

Sheeple, and they are dumber than a box of rocks.

I am referring to the Iowan voting block.

Deborah W.
Deborah W3 years ago

Just another example of "carefully crafted campaigning" ... sound familiar? Recognizable? (Model straight from the top.)

Dhaval M.
Dhaval M6 years ago

the only reason our judicial system works is because judges are appointed. they need not worry about their popularity. if judges all over the nation started worrying about polls how would they be any different from senators?it would simply increase corruption and completely destroy the judicial system.

Lionel Mann
Lionel Mann6 years ago

The appointment of judges should never be a political issue; that way the judiciary can never be truly impartial but always open to corruption. The only persons genuinely qualified to appoint judges are members of their own profession. Certainly the general public has neither the intelligence not the expertise to be involved.

Janice P.
Janice P6 years ago

I firmly believe that we need to be able to vote whether or not to retain judges. The Missouri Plan, which was formulated by my own state, is the best formula for determining who should serve as judges.

On the other hand, any regimen can be misused for nefarious purposes. Apparently, that happened in Iowa. Civil and human rights are hard won. They cannot and should not be abrogated by a vote of the electorate. Unfortunately, until the Supreme Court or Congress acts with regard to these issues, we will continue to see these kinds of injustices.

Catherine A.
Catherine A6 years ago

What muddy water. The law is not really understood by the populace and this can be lead to irrational judgement. One person's Fair is another's detriment. (My spelling suffers.)

Myra H.
Myra Hickman6 years ago

I think we need to reserve the right to vote judges out. It's extraordinarily sad that these three were voted out, but don't we need to reserve the right to vote out the judges WE think are unsuitable?

Bon L.
Bon L6 years ago

Thanks for the info.