New group opposes effort to remove Iowa judges

Posted by Ed Tibbetts on

"A new coalition aimed at retaining Iowa’s system of judicial appointments warned Monday that an 'extremist' group from Mississippi is at the root of an effort to oust three justices from the state Supreme Court.

"Former Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson, a Democrat, told reporters the American Family Association is financing an attempt to 'hijack Iowa’s courts' but without donations from Iowans.

"Pederson and former Lt. Gov. Joy Corning joined Monday to announce the formation of a group called Justice Not Politics, which they said is a non-partisan broad based effort to provide a counter argument.

"Former Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats is leading the campaign to oust three of the court’s members a year after it voted unanimously to legalize the freedom to marry.

"Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and justices Michael Streit and David Baker face a retention vote this year.

"According to reports filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, American Family Association Action, of Tupelo, Miss., has contributed about $57,000 to Iowa for Freedom, the group Vander Plaats chairs.

"Iowa for Freedom says on its web site it is a project of American Family Action.

"A conservative Christian group founded by the Rev. Donald Wildmon in the late 1970s, the AFA has recently been involved in a boycott against Home Depot, saying its workplace policies promote the spread of homosexuality.

“'They don’t have the interests of Iowans at heart,' Pederson told reporters on a conference call.

"Vander Plaats said there are Iowans on the staff level – and who support their efforts.

“'AFA Action has been very helpful, very beneficial to our campaign. Still, Iowans are leading this charge,' Vander Plaats said. 'I think it still boils down to unelected representatives going outside their jurisdiction to create marriage equality in the state of Iowa.'

"Vander Plaats rejected the idea that AFA is extremist.

"National Organization for Marriage [NOM] also has filed an independent expenditure report saying it’s contributing $235,000 to ads seeking to oust the three judges.

"Pederson and Corning said their group would not counter with a media campaign, but would instead reach out to members of their coalition, which is made up of a host of organizations from around the state."

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