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Bench Memos

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Iowa Retention Election



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Three of the Iowa supreme court justices who were complicit in inventing a state constitutional right to same-sex marriage face a retention election this November. The three are chief justice Marsha K. Ternus and associate justices Michael J. Streit and David L. Baker.

According to this persuasive declaration on YouTube, Justice Streit used the recent occasion of his swearing in new attorneys to advise those attorneys that they should vote to retain him and his colleagues. Of course, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a justice who doesn’t understand the difference between judging and politicking would campaign for himself while carrying out his official duties (and wearing his judicial robe).

And, according to this article, just last week Chief Justice Ternus contended that efforts to unseat the justices were (in the article’s summary) “an attempt to intimidate judges and force the opponents’ political beliefs on the courts.” But on the matter of marriage, at least, it is the Iowa justices who have forced their political beliefs on the people of Iowa—in the guise of construing the state constitution, no less. It is the opponents of that ruling who recognize that the question of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples is a matter to be addressed through the democratic processes—processes that don’t guarantee victory for, or otherwise impose, anyone’s political beliefs. 

This, of course, is on top of Justice O’Connor’s unseemly involvement in the retention-election campaign, all at a time when she regards herself, rightly or wrongly, as continuing to be a sitting federal judge in senior status.

If Iowans take seriously their responsibilities as citizens, they ought to throw the rascals out.

Update—A reader who is a proud Hawkeye comments:

Someone needs to tell Chief Justice Ternus that, of same-sex marriage and judicial retention elections, one of the two was actually put into the Iowa Constitution by the Iowan people.  And it’s not same-sex marriage.

Ternus is a stronger proponent of what’s not in the Iowa Constitution than of what is in it!



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