GOP targets Iowa SupCo justice in 2012 retention vote

Here’s the full story here.  Below are all the statements issued today by Iowa GOP chairman A.J. Spiker, Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky, Connie Ryan-Terrell of the Iowa Interfaith Alliance — and by Justice David Wiggins himself.

Iowa GOP chairman A.J. Spiker emailed this today:

Fellow Iowa Republicans,
This morning I issued a formal press release below on the upcoming retention vote of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins. Along with a handful of activist judges, Justice Wiggins chose to disregard legal precedent when he voted to re-define the definition of marriage within the state of Iowa.

On behalf of the Republican Party of Iowa I stated the Iowa GOP’s position that Justice Wiggins must be removed from his post and not retained through this coming election.

As a Republican I am a strong believer in the rule of law and the need for Iowans to have the final say on how marriage is defined. It should be up to us as voters to decide how this sacred institution is defined and not a small group of judges. The people of Iowa are tired of increasingly powerful bureaucrats arrogantly and deceitfully instituting law when they have no justification or ability to do so.

I call on all Republicans in Iowa to vote, “No” on the retention of Justice David Wiggins in this coming November election. We have an obligation to protect the rule of law and the values we believe in and have the opportunity to do so by removing those with blatant disregard for the law.

Help advance the principles of the Iowa GOP by donating $20, $50, or $100 today

Just as we did in 2010, Iowa Republicans have the power to remove activist judges who abuse their authority and allow their pride to influence their responsibility to uphold the Constitution.

Please join me in voting, “No” on the retention of Justice Wiggins and spread the word to friends and family about the need to remove this arrogant and misguided judge. This will be the only opportunity to hold these unelected activist judges accountable.

Together we can ensure Iowa is a state that respects our Constitution and will not stand for political bureaucrats who believe they are above the law.
Vote “No” on retaining Justice David Wiggins this coming November. 

Thank you,

A.J. Spiker
Chairman, Republican Party of Iowa

Statement from Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker:

“The Republican Party of Iowa believes we must be a state based on laws and not the whims of unelected activist judges attempting to impose their personal views on the public. The people of Iowa are tired of increasingly powerful bureaucrats arrogantly and deceitfully instituting law when they have no justification or ability to do so.

“In 2010 Iowa voters chose to dismiss three activist judges who allowed their own politics to influence their obligation to uphold the Iowa Constitution. These three were among a handful of judges who chose to disregard years of legal precedent on the status of marriage and how it was to be defined. Instead of allowing the people of Iowa to decide this issue at the polls, these judges instead chose to impose their will upon the state and re-write history without weighing the merits of our laws and values. Regardless of political pressure or the state of cultural affairs at the moment, it is the people of Iowa through our elections that must be permitted to decide this important issue.

“Just as Iowans successfully showed in 2010, it is again time to put a check on this power and reign in an activist judge from his position of misused authority. This is the only chance voters have to make their voice heard and we must take the opportunity to remove Justice David Wiggins from his post and show him his arrogance and disregard for the law does indeed have consequences.

“On behalf of the Republican Party of Iowa, I urge all Iowans to go to the polls this November and vote “No” on the retention of Justice Wiggins. Let us make sure voters across all 99 counties send a strong message to the judicial branch and activist judges who may not fully understand the power that individual voters have within Iowa and our entire nation. Vote”No” on retaining Justice David Wiggins and help end the bullying of activist judges once and for all.”

Wiggins himself issued a written statement:

Statement of Justice Wiggins

Our system is built on checks and balances between independent branches of government.  Two of the branches are designed to be political.  It is unfortunate that Mr. Spiker apparently thinks that all three branches should be political.  

I have always viewed the role of the judiciary as limited and I am proud of my work in writing opinions and helping resolve the issues that are brought before the court. 

A group that supports the court’s ruling on gay marriage issued a statement:

Des Moines, IA – The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa expressed its outrage with the Republican Party of Iowa and its leaders for injecting politics directly into the heart of the judicial retention process and called for the party to step away from politicizing the courts.

Statement from Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa:

“Leaders of the Republican Party of Iowa have crossed a line. Their inappropriate action has angered Iowans, including party members, who expect more from them. No political party should be telling citizens how to vote in our judicial retention election. The egregious statement by the RPI is irresponsible and harmful to the judicial retention process and ultimately to our courts.

“Iowa’s excellent retention process is designed specifically to keep politics out of our courts so they remain impartial and available to every Iowan. Injecting partisan politics into the retention process is dangerous and shortsighted.”

Working with partner organizations such as Justice Not Politics, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa will continue to remind Iowans that the courts should never be politicized for personal gain. “Iowans respect the courts and understand that the best interest of every person is protected when our courts remain free from the corruption of politics and money,” concluded Ryan Terrell.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s chairwoman issued a statement, too.

Des Moines — Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky released the following statement in response to Republican Party of Iowa Chairman (A.J.) Spiker’s comments regarding the upcoming retention vote of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins:

“Chairman Spiker’s comments and other attacks against the judiciary are unacceptable and highlight the dangers of politicizing the judicial branch, which is an independent branch protecting the civil rights of all Iowans.
“We vehemently oppose the politicization of judicial selection by the RPI and special interest groups, many of them out of state, who financed the anti-retention campaign in 2010 and will likely fund the effort in 2012.
“We are very concerned about the risk these out-of-state special interest groups are bringing to our state, and we will not sit quietly as they crusade to eliminate an independent judiciary and taint the entire democratic system. As Iowans we must stand up for an independent judicial system that continues to work for all of us.”

A group called “One Iowa” which supports same-sex marriage issued a statement.

(Des Moines, IA)—Today the Iowa Republican Party Chairman, AJ Spiker released a statement calling on Iowa voters to oust Justice Wiggins in the November election. Justice Wiggins is the only justice up for a retention vote this year who served in 2009 when the court unanimously ruled in favor of marriage equality with the Varnum v. Brien decision.

In 2010, largely bankrolled by out-of-state groups and led by Bob Vander Plaats, a successful campaign was waged to oust Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, and Justices Michael Streit and David Baker.

Statement from One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing:

“This latest move by the Iowa Republican Party is an outrageous assault on our courts. By calling for the ousting of Justice Wiggins, they have made it clear that justice is not at the center of this campaign. Instead, it is politics at its worst.

In 2009, the Iowa State Supreme Court honored the Constitution and made a fair and reasoned decision when they unanimously ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. The Iowa State Supreme Court has always valued the individual rights and equal protection of its citizens. The Varnum decision was another example of the values that Iowans hold dear: the values of fairness and justice.

Iowa is a better place because of marriage equality. We are a state that values all families, not a state that supports a constitutional ban on marriage for loving and committed couples. We are a state that values fairness and justice, not the corrupting influence of politics and money.

Iowans deserve better than this. “

Joy Corning, a former Republican office-holder — the woman Governor Terry Branstad ran with in 1992 and 1995 — supported the three justices who were voted off the bench in 2010. She issued a statement:

DES MOINES, IOWA — Former Republican Lt. Governor Joy Corning issued the following statement today, responding to Iowa Republican Party Chair AJ Spiker’s partisan intrusion into Iowa’s courts:

“It is sad and appalling that leadership in the Republican Party of Iowa would inject politics into our fair and impartial courts. They’re not speaking for moderate, fair-minded Iowans. Removing brave and principled judges last election wounded our reputation, our courts and our state. Iowans are proud of our courts and we want them to be free from the influence of politics.”

“Justice David Wiggins is a vital member of Iowa’s outstanding bench of Supreme Court Justices, who all deserve support from Iowans. Justice Wiggins’ unwavering support for equal rights is based in values that all Iowans hold dear,  regardless of political leanings. The leadership of the Republican Party of Iowa is blatantly attempting to politicize our judicial selection process.”

And, at 5:59 p.m., the Iowa State Bar Association issued a statement:

The Iowa State Bar Association responds to Iowa GOP chair’s reckless statements about Iowa’s courts

The Iowa State Bar Association denounces the reckless statements by the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa about Iowa’s courts.  The statements show a fundamentally flawed view of the function of the courts and a clear lack of understanding of basic civics.  Upholding the equal protection of the law is not a “personal whim” as the Republican party chair asserts.  Iowa judges are not “bureaucrats” as he claims.  Iowa judges are selected on merit, nominated in accordance with the Iowa constitution and appointed by the governor. 

It is wrong to mislead voters and call on them to throw out a judge because of a single decision with which they don’t agree.  To do so is contrary to the letter and the spirit of our constitution. Quoting U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, “Judges are not politicians who promise certain things in exchange for votes.”  

The Iowa State Bar Association is committed to setting the record straight in the face of misinformation about Iowa’s courts and our system of justice.  The GOP chair should retract his irresponsible statements and encourage all Iowans to exercise their vote on Iowa’s judges in an informed manner.
 The Iowa State Bar Association is a voluntary organization of more than 8,000 lawyers and judges who are licensed to practice law in the state of Iowa. Oldest of the voluntary bar associations in the country, The ISBA has been in continuous operation since its founding in 1874.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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