Chief justice has “absolutely” no regret about same-sex marriage ruling

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady is the guest on this weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television.  Cady responded with “absolutely not” when asked whether he had regrets about the court’s 2009 decision on same-sex marriage which has sparked controversy. 

“…That decision was crafted with all of the energy, all of the strength — everything that we do as judges is in that opinion,” Cady said. “Everything that Iowa is about is in that opinion.”

Grant Schulte of The Des Moines Register noted Cady’s comments about what judges need to do now.

…Cady said judges in Iowa need “to stand up, and explain to the public that doesn’t understand that isn’t about our personal views.

“This is about applying the law, applying our constitution, and doing what judges have always been doing,” he said.

 James Q. Lynch of The Cedar Rapids Gazette covered what Cady said about the 2010 retention election and future retention elections .

…“We approached that retention election much like judges and the judiciary has always approached things,” he said. “We tried to stay in the back, do our work and do it in a competent, quiet way.’

However the election “revealed something else to us,” the chief justice said, and predicted the justices won’t be as docile in standing for retention in the future even if it means forming political action committees, raising money – even from potential litigants – and hiring campaign consultants.

 “Iowa Press” airs tonight at 7:30.   Or you can watch it on IPTV’s website.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. John Norwood says

    Hi Kay,

    I enjoyed the IPTV interview with Justice Cady last night. He is a very thoughtful and caring individual. I agree with him the Judiciary would do itself a big favor by increasing the transparency of the organization.

    I have a couple of observations on the Court issue. First, I think the November 2nd recall election had more to it than just Varnum. I know it did for me. I would love to see a news organization conduct a poll of voters and attempt to better understand what motivated the voter behavior. In my own conversations with Iowans the concept of “judicial arrogance” seems to surface with some, not necessarily tied to Varnum but the general idea that the judiciary conducts itself in a way that the public perceives a double standard.

    Second, I think the Court would do itself a service by revisiting the standards and practices that it holds all its members to, particulary those at the district level. Those are the front lines of justice where there is the least accountability and the most room for improvement, in my opinion because we don’t have the wisdom of a panel. In my own limited experience with the Courts, I wouldn’t be surprised if we learned that 95, 96 98% of our judges do an admirable job, but there are a few percent that shouldn’t have life time appointments and there is really no effective way to politely show those individuals the door. In other states, such as Pennsylvania (see Lucerne County), the worst abusers have wrecked havoc for years with officers of the court around them in the know. We need to change that somehow. The other issue, and I was surprised no one mentioned it, was the idea that our highest justices in their personal affairs need to set good examples for the rest of us, including the lower courts — if you’re judging other Iowans as your day job, you need to hold yourself to a higher standard. I’ve heard from a number of Iowans that factored into their thinking on November 2nd…and it appears to have been reflected in the polls. Another example of “judicial arrogance” was perhaps the way the “over-the-top” as some would say Court house here in Polk County was floated several times before the public before a more common sense proposal was adopted. So, I think there’s more going on than just Varnum. Finally, I’d like to see our Courts regularly survey litigants, juries, etc. to see how the judges are doing in terms of upholding the standards and practices of the office, and this could serve as a reminder that judicial positions should not be considered life time entitlements beyond scrutiny. It’s good to hear the Chamber views our court system highly, but I’d like to hear from every day Iowans that we believe our Courts are everything they can and should be. Having been a part of two trials, one as a litigant and one as a foreman of a jury, I can tell you there’s room for improvement, including better mentoring of judges!

    Thanks Kay.


  2. Floyd Gardner says

    That three judges were removed from office because they voted for individual rights tells us a lot about Iowa. It tells us that any demagogue can concoct a reason for the public to blindly follow lies and distortions, resulting in great damage to our basic freedoms.

    This situation also scares me because it highlights just how many people are willing to undermine our country’s structure, and how easy it is for them to accumulate followers. It helps me understand Hitler’s Germany and it makes me fear a great portion of our conservative news media which works so hard to develop these positions and present them to the public. It’s a simple process: Take a position that will weaken the government, wrap it in curt cliches that imply a moral and religious tone and repeat it so often that it becomes an automatic thought for weak willed people who don’t want to think for themselves. We see it all the time. We see it today in the stem cell research story in this paper.

    Conservatives are masters at taking the moral high ground through lies and distortions. They’ve fooled us into blaming the government for everything, they’ve fooled us into giving up regulations that result in great harm to us individually and to the nation, and they’ve fooled us taking a position against health care reform which was in our own best interest. And we follow like blind children.

    Conservative leadership are probably surprised by one thing: how easy it is to fool us.