Pro-judge group releases poll

A group that supports the retention of Iowa Supreme Court justices has paid to conduct a poll on the prospect of impeachment of the four justices who remain on the Iowa Supreme Court.  Read the group’s release below; it mentions another outfit’s polling data as well.

Iowans Decisively Oppose Impeachment of Justices, Polls Show
Group Urges End to ‘Misguided’ Ouster Bid by Vander Plaats, Legislators

JAN. 18—Iowa voters are solidly opposed to impeaching four state Supreme Court justices, according to two new independent statewide polls, and leaders of an Iowa group are calling on the legislature to quickly end a “misguided” impeachment effort by some lawmakers.

In a poll released today <>  by Justice Not Politics and the Justice at Stake Campaign, 54 percent oppose calls to impeach the justices.  Only 36 percent said they favor impeaching the judges, over a 2009 decision by the Iowa Supreme Court that permitted same-sex marriage.

Moreover, after hearing the Iowa Constitution’s standard for impeachment—“misdemeanor or malfeasance”—only 17 percent said that a court decision can be an impeachable offense. By contrast, 63 percent of Iowans said a court decision does not meet the standard for impeachment, even if they personally disagree with it. 

“Iowa voters reject the reckless calls by Bob Vander Plaats and his allies in the legislature for impeachment, and the entire misguided reasoning behind it,” said Sally Pederson, Co-Chair of Justice, Not Politics, an Iowa group. “Voters understand the importance of an impartial court which upholds the constitution, and say no to impeachment before it does further damage to our state, and to our courts.”

The results virtually matched those of a poll released late last week by Public Policy Polling <> , which found that 55% of Iowa voters oppose impeachment, and only 38% support it. The PPP poll was conducted Jan. 7-9, while the Justice Not Politics/Justice at Stake survey was conducted Jan. 8-12.

“There can no longer be any doubt that Iowa voters have said a loud, emphatic ‘No’ to impeachment,” said Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Washington-based Justice at Stake. “Iowans, like all Americans, want their justice system insulated from hard-ball political attacks, even when they disagree with a particular decision.”

Impeachment has been a hot topic since three Iowa justices were ousted in a retention election in November. Several freshmen lawmakers have vowed to remove the remaining justices, who do not face retention elections until 2012 and 2014, citing their votes in the same-sex marriage case.

But the Justice Not Politics/Justice at Stake survey suggests that Iowa voters see impeachment in fundamentally different terms than they do retention elections, in which a “yes” or “no” vote decides whether judges receive an additional term.

Even among those who voted “no” in the November retention election, 39 percent said a court decision does not meet the state’s standard for impeachment, while only 30 percent said it does. Of those who voted to retain the justices, 92 percent said a court decision is not an impeachable offense.

Iowa would be the first state in the nation’s history to impeach judges for a decision on the bench.  U.S. Justice Samuel Chase was impeached in 1805, because of his Federalist Party ties, but was later acquitted in a Senate trial. Lawmakers have rejected political impeachment efforts since, reserving judicial impeachments for criminal or ethical violations.

“If we start impeaching judges every time someone thinks a decision is wrong, our entire system of justice will break down,” said Justice Not Politics Co-Chair Joy Corning. “Iowans are tired of the outrageous rhetoric and reckless ideas like impeachment. The more than 200 people who showed their support for Iowa’s courts at last week’s State of the Judiciary speech made their feelings clear.” 

Opponents also have warned that an impeachment trial would throw Iowa and its court system into disarray. 

According to a recent Washington Post commentary <> by Brandenburg, a drawn-out Senate trial could paralyze state government, discourage business investment in Iowa and set the stage by future pay-back impeachments against judges appointed by both parties. 

The Justice Not Politics/Justice at Stake poll questioned 748 voters by automated telephone, with an estimated margin of error of 3.6 percent, according to 20/20 Insight, an Atlanta polling firm.
Detailed results from the poll can be downloaded here <>


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. Gee, I wonder who they polled? All Democrats? It’s like 3 wolves and a sheep deciding on lunch, and it’s a 75% decision.

  2. Daniel Gleason says

    A judges duty on the bench is to interpret laws passed by legislative bodies to decide if 1) they are lawful 2) has the law been broken ) has the law been applied unfairly. These are three major reasons we have judges. Judges should not be swayed by public opinion, thats why we have the legislative branch. Remember checks and balances from your civics classes or were you sleeping in class? If judges didnt interpret and apply the law to all of us equally we might still have slavery, blacks with no voting rights, mixed marraiges would still be illegal. We have to remember you cant legislate morals. Remember what happened with Prohibition, the laws we had on Sodomy, Adultry. I have to laugh about the sancity of marriage, there is none anymore not that there really ever was. People have committed adultry since biblical times and the first marriage was preformed. Spouses have beaten, abused, disobeyed, stopped loving and basically broken every vow they made in the ceromony that Conservatives say is only between a man and a woman. When I see a 100 percent statistic of marraiges lasting till death do us part then I will back an ammendment saying that marriage is so special it needs special attention. Until then remember we are all humans and we are all created equal with equal rights protected under our Constitution.

  3. Cut thru the leftist BS. The Iowa SC does NOT have a role in writing law. Gov Gronstal does not have the backbone, or leadership to bring up and pass a sodemy bill so he gets the “all holy” courts to make the law. WRONG.

    Poll those who voted Nov 2010 (in % by party reg) and publish that result. Once more the leftist media trying to drive news and legislation.