By Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins survived the same type of ouster effort that cost three of his court colleagues their positions two years ago.
It was a victory for Wiggins, as well as those who have faith in the state’s merit system for selecting judges. Count us among the latter.
In 2010 the court decided 7-0 that an Iowa law restricting marriage to one man and one woman violated the state’s constitution. That led to the ouster of Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and justices David Baker and Michael Streit in the next judicial retention vote.
The state had seen a surge in money from national organizations bent on getting rid of the judges. This year had been quieter, with less outside advertising money. However, the Christian conservative group The Family Leader, led by former gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, spearheaded a drive to oust Wiggins — the only justice up for retention who was part of the Varnum v. Brien decision.
Iowa State Bar Association President Cynthia Moser of Des Moines said Tuesday’s election results show Iowa voters are confident in the state’s merit system for selecting judges, and they want to maintain fair and impartial courts.
“The citizens have spoken, and they won’t allow outside money to impact the courts,” she said.
We have always found it disturbing that three justices lost their jobs on the Supreme Court due to one hot-button issue after a sound conclusion based on the Iowa Constitution.
We would also note it is the legislative branch that would have the responsibility in bringing the issue to a vote. Our legislators have, so far, decided not to take that route.
Justices weigh cases by examining the facts, applying precedents and common law, studying relevant constitutional and statutory provisions and having discussions with colleagues before rendering their decisions.
In the Varnum case, the Supreme Court had to judge civil marriage under our constitutional standards of equal protection, and not through the lens of religious doctrine or the religious views of individuals.
We’d like to believe voting Iowans learned a little more about how that case had to be considered over the past two years.