Support Iowa's Judiciary in 2012 Election

This is not a political blog but I again feel compelled to write about the political effort by certain special interest groups to oust the Supreme Court justices who ruled in an unanimous opinion in the Varnum case that non-religious, civil marriage should be a right available to everyone. In the last election, three Iowa Supreme Court justices were ousted. This time the special interest groups have have targeted yet another Justice involved in the decision.  We cannot let this happen again. 

We have long had an excellent system of justice in Iowa. Like any lawyer or the public, I do not agree with every decision issued by our judges. However, it is my belief that our judges do their best to make our court system fair and impartial. On survey after survey, Iowa courts have ranked high in judicial fairness nationally. Moreover, the positive feedback from Iowa lawyers on the Iowa State Bar Association surveys demonstrates the high quality of work performed by our justices.

Unfortunately the special interest groups trying to oust our judges would have you believe otherwise. They want you to believe that a group of "activist" Supreme Court judges set out to ignore or rewrite our constitution. They want you to believe the judges ignored the will of the people. 

But know that judges are not activists when they decide constitutional issues, rather, they are required to rule on the issues presented by the parties. That's called doing your job as a judge, not activism. In our judicial system, when one party alleges a law is unconstitutional, it is the court's DUTY to compare the law passed in the political process to the equal protection guaranteed to all in our Constitution.

You may or may not agree with the decision in Varnum. But for me, that's not the issue. The issue is the notion that an entire Supreme Court and lower court judges should be removed solely because special interest groups disagree with their decision. Do you want a judiciary that is for sale? Do you want a judiciary that must cower in fear because well-funded special interest groups may be unhappy with their next decision? Do you want a judiciary whose impartiality is weakened?

In conclusion, I hope you will turn the ballot over and vote 'Yes' on the retention of our judges in next week's election. The survey of Iowa lawyers demonstrates these judges are well qualified in their current positions and are deserving of our support. An independent judiciary may be riding on it.

*The views expressed on this blog are my own and are not intended to speak for or represent the views of Brick Gentry, P.C. or the other lawyers in our law firm.

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Doug Pitman - October 31, 2012 12:05 PM

While the emotional issues surrounding Varnum has brought the retention issue to the forefront, the underlying problem is what the public views as legislating from the bench. I appreciate the legal basis our court used, but the court elevated the power of the court beyond the original intent of the founders, or at least that's how it appears. Aside from that discussion, since opinions are the basis for these important decisions, it is entirely within the bounds of reason to have turnover on the bench to facilitate new, fresh opinions being exposed. Voting against retention allows that to happen. It is not solely a vendetta against an individual, and there certainly is a vast, qualified field of candidates from which to choose.

Rush Nigut - October 31, 2012 6:32 PM

Doug, thank you for your comment. However, the vote against the justices in the Varnum decision is quite obviously a vendetta. And that vast, qualified field of candidates you mention? I suspect nearly all would interpret our Iowa Constitution in the same manner if not subjected to political pressure. The fact it was an unanimous decision in Varnum tells you something.

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