Last day for Justices Ternus, Streit, Baker

This is the final day in office for the three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were ousted in November’s judicial retention election.  Tomorrow is an official state holiday and the courts are closed, so Supreme Court opinions will be released this morning — the last set of opinions to be issued from the seven-member court.  The opinions are usually released during the eight o’clock hour, and posted here.  Five opinions are expected today, including a complicated case about franchises and corporate taxes.

 The four remaining justices will have to decide how to issue rulings in 2011 — and whether they’ll rehear any of the cases which involved all seven justices.  Justice Mark Cady will serve as the interim chief justice.  Cady will deliver the annual “Condition of the Judiciary” message to legislators in January.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. I feel sorry for the justices leaving today; they are all good people. And while I fundamental disagree with their ruling in Varnum, it still is only one case out of literally thousands in which they have participated. Tossing a judge out of office for one ruling in one case is an abuse of the retention process.

    Still, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that it was a dumb ruling, and one which didn’t have to be made. The court ignored the issue before them — namely whether or not the legislature’s actions defining marriage — was an appropriate exercise of legislative authority. Since Iowa has been a State, its legislature has set out rules governing marriage — the age of the participants, their relationships with one another, if any (first cousins are prohibited from marrying), the length of time they have lived in the State, proof of health issues, and on and on and on.

    Why the Court decided to act as it did is a mystery. It should serve as a reminder to all in authority, whether they be judges or legislators, that one cannot get too far away from the main stream thinking of the voters of the state. Even judges who are not politicians and thus can not promise this or that, must take heed. For if one gets too far away from main stream thinking, one will pay the price — even a price which may be disproportionately severe.

    In the final analysis, all who ask the voters to approve of their candidacy in whatever capacity must always remember that no one has a right to any public office. Public office is a trust to be awarded or withheld by the voters at their whim. And when the voters decide it should be withheld, it is not a personal repudiation of the defeated office holder. Instead the voters are simply exercising their discretion to grant or withhold the office the candidate has sought. The defeated candidate can always find some solace in the oft repeated rubric: The voters have spoken, the &^&^%$@ ! But having uttered that to himself, friends and close associates, he or she must then move on, and gracefully exit, stage left.