By David Wiggins
For nine years, I have done my best to serve the law, the Constitution, and the people of Iowa as a member of the Iowa Supreme Court. It is an honor and sincerely humbling experience to serve with Iowa’s committed and distinguished judges on this court.
I am proud of the work I have done as a judge. Since my days at Drake University Law School, I have had a passion for the American legal system. The idea that no matter who you are, the down and out or powerful and well connected, you can take your case before the court and get a fair shake. That has always resonated with me.
I truly believe Iowa’s judicial branch is one of the best in the nation — but some disagree. A longtime political campaigner launched an effort to remove me from the court because I took part in the unanimous Varnum v. Brien decision.
I have been asked why I do not open my own campaign to fight back. While I certainly considered it, I just do not want Iowa to go there.
Campaigns are political. They require candidates to count votes and appeal to donors. That system has created a big enough mess in Congress. It has no business in the courts.
Judges should be beholden only to the Constitution and the law. They should not please donors or appease potential critics. I do not want Iowa to end up like states with highly partisan courts. Iowa is better than that.
Iowans deserve to know more about their judges, but 30-second political ads are not the answer. So I will share a little about where I come from as a person, as an Iowan. Hopefully it will show you where I am coming from as a judge.
I grew up in a small community just outside Chicago. From the time I started driving, I had a delivery route for my dad’s egg business. I thought I would work that truck for the rest of my life, but my parents pushed me to go somewhere no one in my family had ever gone: college.
Drake Law School brought me to Iowa. My wife and I were fortunate to build our family and our careers here. My wife, Marsha, has taught preschool for 20 years. I practiced trial advocacy and had some of the best mentors in the legal profession.
My mentors taught me if I focused on making money, I would fail. If I focused on my clients one case at a time, and did right by them, success would come. I have tried to pass that wisdom on to each new lawyer I meet.
As an attorney, my job was to advocate for my client. As a judge, I cannot be motivated other than to follow the law where it leads me. As a judge, I am not here to say what is right or wrong. I am here to figure out what a statute means and to uphold a person’s rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
I have opinions, there is no doubt, but my personal opinions do not change what the law says. Outcomes cannot motivate judges, and on this court, they do not. If you politicize the courts, you lose that.
I want to keep my job, believe me, but I will not jeopardize the integrity of the Iowa Supreme Court in the process. I hope you will vote “yes” for me on the back of your ballot in November.
More important, I hope Iowa Supreme Court Justices never have to raise money from political donors to ask for your vote.
David Wiggins is one of seven justices serving the Iowa Supreme Court. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org