Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice facing right-wing attack

by on October 10, 2012  •  In Elections, Judiciary, Marriage

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Two years ago, voters in Iowa tossed out three justices of the state’s supreme court, after anti-equality forces mobilized anger against that court’s unanimous decision to require equal access to marriage. This year, Chief Justice David Wiggins is facing a retention vote, and supporters of the Varnum decision are trying to prevent a repeat of the 2010 results.According to an AP report:

Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal led a cross-state bus tour denouncing Wiggins as a liberal judicial activist. At each stop, they were trailed by a bus carrying members of the bar who defended Wiggins against that accusation…

During the bus tour, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown said that defeating the justices [in 2010] shows that gay marriage isn’t inevitable and can’t be imposed by the courts.

“Change the course of history. Take a bold stand,” he told supporters. “Do not allow activist judges to rewrite your constitution. Hold them accountable and the world will be watching.”…

But views have changed as more than 4,500 same-sex couples have married since 2009. A Des Moines Register poll in February found that voters overwhelmingly opposed amending the constitution to ban gay marriage. Those surveyed were split on the 2009 ruling and one-third said they “don’t care much” about the issue.

Several other factors also may help Wiggins, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack in 2003, as he seeks a second eight-year term. His supporters are running a stronger campaign than the ineffective pro-retention effort in 2010. The presidential race also means the electorate will be larger and more liberal than the one that turned out for the Republican-dominated midterm election.

“It makes it more difficult,” concedes Bob Vander Plaats, whose group, the Family Leader, leads the opposition. He said that “with limited resources,” it would be harder to get an anti-Wiggins message out as Iowa gets saturated with ads for presidential and congressional races…

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