Iowa chief justice won’t fight ouster campaign

Associated Press story posted on

"Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus said Thursday that she and two other justices have no plans to launch a counter-campaign against gay rights opponents seeking to unseat them for supporting last year's unanimous decision legalizing the freedom to marry.

"Ternus told the Telegraph Herald of Dubuque that she and justices David Baker and Michael Streit don't want to set an example for judges by campaigning and raising money.

"'How would you feel, as a litigant, to appear in court and know that the opposing party's attorney gave money to the judge's re-election campaign and your attorney didn't? Is that the kind of system Iowans want? I just hope they think about it. This is way more important than whether any one judge is retained or not,' she said.

"Gay rights opponents [including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM)] announced the campaign in August, promising an intense and well-financed campaign to vote the three out of office on the Nov. 2. The campaign is led by Bob Vander Plaats, who lost the Republican primary for governor but has a strong following among social conservatives.

... "Judges in Iowa are allowed to form campaign committees and raise funds, but Ternus said she and the other justices haven't done that because they don't want judges worrying about offending campaign contributors.

"'Critics of the court want people to exercise their vote based on their own view of court decisions. If the people of Iowa agree with that, I think they're sending a message that we want you to decide cases based on public opinion,' Ternus told the newspaper. 'I think that would just be a horrible outcome if the voters send the message that it's more important for cases to be decided based on popular opinion and political clout than the law.' " 

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