By Donna Red Wing
As the executive director of One Iowa, I can tell you that the courts have played a crucial role in our organization’s mission to support full equality for LGBT Iowans and their families.
Without the leadership and fairness of our courts, some Iowa families would still be treated as less than equal. From the 2009 Supreme Court ruling to the upcoming decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, our community looks to the courts to continue upholding the promise of equal protection.
That is why it is crucial that we stand up for our courts and for qualified and competent judges who serve. Unfortunately, there are those in Washington, D.C. who would rather play politics than preserve the integrity of our judiciary. Just last week Senate Republicans again blocked the confirmation of Caitlin Halligan to the D.C. Circuit District Court. Halligan was originally nominated in 2010, then renominated in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Halligan is a highly competent judge, and her experience in public service and law enforcement would have been a valuable addition to the D.C. Circuit Court.
It should be noted that movement for President George W. Bush’s federal appellate judicial nominees, from committee vote to confirmation, averaged 35 days. By contrast, the average wait time for President Obama’s federal appellate judicial nominees has been 147 days.
We should care about representative diversity on that D.C. bench even as we consider a vacancy in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that represents Iowa.
Jane Kelly was recently nominated by President Obama. Iowa Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley, the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, both support Kelly. The Senate Judiciary Committee must vote on whether to move the nomination to the full Senate. If confirmed, Kelly would become the second woman to ever sit on that court. As a federal public defender in Cedar Rapids, Kelly would bring great professional diversity to the court.
These diverse experiences from judges with different backgrounds both professionally and personally mean greater access to a fair and impartial judiciary that is receptive to the facts and arguments presented to them. As a leader in the movement for LGBT equality, I put my faith in a fair and impartial judiciary to provide justice.
Jane Kelly should be given a prompt vote from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The courts matter too much to be casualties of partisan politics.
Donna Red Wing is executive director of One Iowa. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org