The rules and gay marriage

There’re all in their places, but I’m not so sure about the bright, shining faces.  The Iowa Senate convened shortly after 7 a.m. today.  A rules fight is a brewin’ here and at the center of it is a push to get a senate vote on a resolution calling for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnershipsin Iowa. 

After a silent prayer for the Iowa troops who’re on active duty and recitation of the Pledge, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal spoke, asking for unanimous consent to call up a piece of legislation. 

Senator Kent Sorenson (R-Indianola) asked for the floor, saying: “I ask unanimous consent to call up Senate Joint Resolution 8.”

A bunch of senators went to the “well” of the senate, which is at the center of the room.  It’s where Senate President Jack Kibbie (D-Emmetsburg) sits.  He functions as the parliamentarian.

Kibbie said since Senate Resolution 2 had already been called up for debate by Gronstal, Sorenson’s motion was out of order.

Sorenson responded. “I call that into question,” he said, employing Senate Rule 52 to “ssk the body to overrule the ruling from the chair.”

There was a parade of senators to Kibbie’s desk to discuss the matter off mic (so we don’t know what is being said).

“This is going to be a circus,” Senator Jack Hatch said as he sat at his desk near the press bench. 

Kibbie spoke to the senate, via the sound system, a few moments later, saying he ws taking a little time for a reason. “This is the first time I’ve had to call a vote on a ruling of the chair,” Kibbie said, “and that’s what we’re a gonna do.”

Sorenson: “I believe it’s a debatable motion.”

Kibbie: “Yes it is.”

Gronstal, at about 7:14 a.m., was recognized to speak.  “There’s been much misinformation about what is in the rules.  We don’t override rulings of the chair,” Gronstal said to start.  Gronstal gave a little history, saying “for a decade, we couldn’t get the minimum wage dealt with in this chamber, but we never voted to overrule the ruling of the chair.”

Gronstal said if the senate can override Kibbie’s ruling this morning, there is no such thing as a committee chair because at any point this body on any issue, whether it’s the iminimum wage or a constitutional amendment.”

He suggested the power of committee chairs would be diminished by the matter, too.

“I even understand that people may characterize this as a vote on the constitutional amendment.  It is not.  I understand that people can lie and say it is,” Gronstal said.

Senator Merlin Bartz (R-Grafton) yelled from his desk, saying Gronstal had violated Senate Rule 9, which says senators are not to  imply a colleague has improper motives.

Kibbie said Bartz’s “point is well taken” and Gronstal replied. “I did not say anything about the motives of the senator.  I said people can.  There’s a good deal of misinformation,” Gronstal said, mentioning email messages being sent out by The FAMiLY Leader, a group which opposes gay marriage.

“This is not a vote on the constitutional amendment on gay marriage,” Gronstal said.

Senator Mark Chelgren (R-Ottumwa) spoke next, saying he’s “only been here for two and a half weeks.”  He quoted the state constitution, saying there was nothing in there about committees.  Chelgren criticized Gronstal for blocking a vote on the constitutional amendment about gay marriage for the past couple of years: “The very act of denying us that is unconstitutional.”

Senator Bartz spoke next. “Extraordinary times deserve extraordinary measures,” he said. “And the real issue we’re standing up here is not because we wish to somehow change the traditions of the senate.”

Sorenson spoke. “I didn’t come over to try and disrupt the process. I didn’t come over here to try to toss tradition out the window and I understand that some of the people doesn’t realize this is a vote for marriage. but the fact of the matter is the people of Iowa have been denied a vote on marriage…We have the opportunity right now to vote on the marriage amendment right now.”

At 7:34 a.m. the voting began on Sorenson’s motion to override the ruling of the chair (senate president).  At 7:35 a.m. the vote was over, failing on a 26-24 party line vote.

The senate then began debate on the senate rules of operation. Gronstal said this is a “pretty arcane discussion” and he asked Bartz to “yield” which in the senate sort of means the two have a conversation over the senate sound system.  Gronstal read something Bartz was quoted as saying in The Mason City Globe Gazette about changing the traditions of the senate, a quote made before the session started.

Bartz said the quote was accurate.  Gronstal then said that proved Republicans, not Democrats were first to start talking about changing the traditions of the senate. Gronstal spoke a few moments more, then said: “It’s time for us to get on about passing (these rules).”

Senate Republicans decided they wanted to caucuses, which means they went into a closed-door meeting and senate activity is suspended.

Chief delivers defense of courts

Chief Justice Mark Cady is scheduled to deliver the annual “Condition of the Judiciary” address to state legislators at 10 o’clock this morning.  Yesterday, Cady and the other three justices who remain on the Iowa Supreme Court received a lengthy ovation when they entered the House chamber to listen to Governor Culver’s “Condition of the State” message.  What follows is a live blog of today’s “main event” at the statehouse.

At 9:55 a.m., the three justices, members of the Court of Appeals and other judges entered the chamber, to a similar but not as lengthy reception as on Tuesday.  Some Republicans stood but did not applaud for the duration of the ovation.

Two former lieutenant governors — Republican Joy Corning and Democrat Sally Pederson — are here for the speech.  Both were part of a group which supported retention of the three justices who were not retained in last fall’s election.  (Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat, mispronounced Pederson’s name.)

At 9:59 a.m., Governor Culver entered the room, to some whistles, hoots and general applause.  At 10 o’clock, Cady entered the room.  (The sergeant at arms referred to him as Chester J. Cady, and mispronounced Cady’s last name, but it’s Mark S. Cady who is entering now.  In case you’re wondering, Cady is pronounced KAY-dee.)

At 10:02 a.m., Cady was introduced and he began speaking.  He went off script at the very beginning, thanking folks for the applause. “It is received in much the same manner as it is given,” Cady said.

Cady began his speech with a discussion of the court’s budget.  The crowd sat silently, listening, never interrupting with applause. On page six of the 15-page speech — at about 10:20 — he began addressing the controversy surrounding the state’s highest court, controversy sparked by its 2009 ruling on gay marriage.  “I feel compelled to address this challenge with you this morning because it threatens to undermine the checks and balanced that protect the constitutional rights of all Iowans.”

At 10:22, after Cady mentioned “equality for all” in reference to celebrated Iowa Supreme Court cases of the past, some in the crowd stood to applaud — the first appplause interruption of Cady’s speech so far.  Democratic legislators stood to applaud.  Republican legislators sat silently.

“I do not know how this debate will end,but I do know our constitution will continue to show us the way,” Cady said next.  “…I want to address certain misunderstandings about the role of the court.”

Cady talked about the “merit selection” system of selecting judges for the state’s court system, saying it “must be maintained.”  He said the constitution requires the 15 members of the Judicial Nominating Commission be chosen “without regard to political affiliation” and he addressed complaints the commission is tilted in favor of Democrats.  He noted Democrats in 1986 complained about “apparent Republican domination” of the commission.  “Our process has worked so well for so long,” Cady said, to applause from about half the folks in the House chamber.

The third burst of applause came after Cady lauded what he called  “our fair and impartial courts” which he described as “a model of good government.”

Cady called for more “transparency” in the process of selecting judges. 

Next, Cady directly confronted critics.  “In our government, courts are legal institutions, not political institutions,” he began.  “…Public opinion shifts.  The will of the people, followed by the courts, is the will expressed by our law, as constrained by the written principles of the constitution.”  He got applause for this statement from some.  A few Republicans who remained seated applauded.

“Unlike our political institutions, courts serve the law.  They serve the law, not the interests of constituents, not the demands of special interest groups and not the electorate’s reaction to a specific court decision,” Cady said.  This got applause, an ovation from some in the room, and some whistles and cheers from the gallery where the public is seated. (Cady added that last phrase — “not the electorate’s reaction to a specific court decision” to the prepared text released at 10:30 a.m.)

Next up, Cady’s defense of “judicial review” which he described as “well documented.”  Cady drew applause from supporters in the crowd when he said the words of the constitution constrain all laws that follow.

He talked about the “peculiar province” of the courts, saying it had been settled in 1803 — Marbury v Madison.  Cady said in 1849, the Iowa Supreme Court issued its first decision that protected the constitutional rights of an Iowan by invalidating a law passed by the legislature. “This is the very duty this court exercised in the Varnum decision,” Cady said, to more applause.

The court has declared acts of the legislature unconstitutional just over 150 times, according to Cady, who added those cases haven’t received the attention the Varnum decision did.  Cady also cited the recent Citizens United case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which saw the court — via judicial review — invalidate a federal law.

“I hope my remarks this morning will lead to a more accurate and complete understanding of the court’s proper constitutional role,” Cady said. 

He next addressed critics who said the court should have suspended its ruling on Varnum to give the legislature time to react, draft a new law, set up a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  Cady said the court hasn’t done that since 1883. “As we said inVarnum, our constitution speaks with principle, and so do we,” Cady said.  He drew out the last phrase of that sentence and his supporters/like-minded people in the crowd stood to applaud.

Cady is now winding down, speaking in generalities rather than specifics about the courts, although he just threw out an oblique reference to “circumstances of the past few months” while discussing the efforts toward “transparency” in the court’s work.

Cady announced the court will hold some oral arguments in communities around the state.  “This will allow interested citizens to watch,” Cady said, adding it could be a “teaching tool” for students.  He got applause for this. “We will also consider other ways to open our work to the public….In the end, we need to get to know each other better.”

Cady ended with a verbal cadence punctuated with the words: let us go forward. 

“Let us go forward…with the courage of the convictions of our constitution…and let us, too, go forward with an understanding that rhetoric has meaning and rhetoric must be responsible,” he said, to applause.

Cady’s speech concluded at 10:53 a.m.

Chief Justice will address gay marriage ruling

The Iowa Supreme Court issued a written statement this afternoon, outlining the topics Chief Justice Mark Cady will cover in his “Condition of the Judiciary” message tomorrow.  It’s now clear Cady will address the elephant in the room rather than ignore it.

Here’s the statement from the Iowa Supreme Court:

On Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 10 a.m. in the Iowa House of Representatives, Chief Justice Mark Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court will address a joint convention of the General Assembly on the State of the Judiciary.

 In his first public appearance since his election as chief justice, Chief Justice Cady will assess the condition of Iowa’s court system. He will discuss the serious decline of Iowans’ access to justice, which was the focus of the 2010 State of the Judiciary Message. This decline is the result of the past decade of deep state budget cuts coupled with the public’s growing demands for court services. Chief Justice Cady will explain how access to justice continues to erode.  Chief Justice Cady will also address certain aspects of the continuing public debate triggered by the supreme court’s 2009 decision in Varnum v. Brien. He will discuss and defend Iowa’s merit system for selecting judges. In addition, he will discuss the constitutional role of courts. Chief Justice Cady hopes his remarks will help promote a greater understanding of the courts and their important role in maintaining our democracy.  

Live audio of the speech will be streamed on the Judicial Branch website at beginning at 10 a.m. The speech will also be broadcast live on Iowa Public Television Channel 11.3 and rebroadcast at 9:30 p.m. on IPTV Channel 11.

Vander Plaats on running against the wind & other subjects

Bob Vander Plaats, the president and C.E.O. of The FAMiLY Leader, is the guest on this coming weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” but the show was taped last Thursday to accommodate the holiday schedule.  You can watch it here on IPTV’s website or see it Friday at 7:30 p.m. on IPTV.

On the set before the show’s taping started last Thursday, Vander Plaats joked about getting some sort of “frequent flier” benefits from IPTV.  (There didn’t appear to be a PBS coffee mug or video of The Lawrence Welk Show handy, however.) Vander Plaats has been on Iowa Press several times over the past decade, first as a gubernatorial candidate in 2002, 2006 and 2010; then this past fall as the leader of the effort to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices in the 2010 judicial retention election.  Before that October, 2010, show began, Vander Plaats joked with people on the set that his theme song over the past decade has been “Running Against the Wind.”

If you watch this week’s show, you’ll see Vander Plaats talk about the efforts of three incoming Republican legislators to draft articles of impeachment against the four justices who remain on the Iowa Supreme Court.  Vander Plaats told reporters after the show he’d prefer the justices resign rather than be impeached — but Vander Plaats predicted the justices would be impeached if they don’t resign.

Vander Plaats also hinted to reporters last Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) is politically vulnerable because of Gronstal’s pledge to block a vote on a resolution which would let Iowans vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in Iowa.  Gronstal has repeated that pledge over and over since April, 2009 when the Iowa Supreme Court issued its ruling which paved the way for gay marriage in Iowa.  Vander Plaats said the people are Iowa are tired of “groveling to Gronstal” on the issue. 

A couple of weeks ago Dave Roederer, Branstad’s transition chief, was asked about the relationship between Vander Plaats and Governor-elect Terry Branstad.  (Branstad, Vander Plaats and state legislator Rod Roberts were the three Republicans who competed in this past June’s GOP Primary for governor.  In case you’re just waking up from a long nap, Branstad won the GOP Primary & the Iowa General Election.)  While Roberts has been asked to join Branstad’s administration as director of the Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals, Vander Plaats has not been asked to fill any role, not even an advisory one. Roederer said the relationship between Branstad and Vander Plaats was “good” and Vander Plaats isn’t being invited into the Branstad administration because it appears Vander Plaats has moved on to a new role at The FAMiLY Leader.

During this week’s “Iowa Press” program, Vander Plaats talked about his relationship with Branstad. 

Mike Glover of the Associated Press: You ran against Governor-elect Branstad in the primary. Talk a little bit about your relationship with Governor Branstad.

Vander Plaats: Well, the relationship of me and Governor Branstad, I don’t know how relevant that is. What I do know about Governor Branstad…

Glover: If you’re going to have a future in Republican politics you’re going to have to factor that in.

Vander Plaats: Yeah and I think vice versa as well. I think it’s a deal of I know where he’s come as it relates to the courts. I mean, when he got on record and he said he only wanted justices that disagreed with the Varnum opinion, when he said he wants people who understand there’s a true separation of powers, the genius of the founding fathers — those are all steps in the right direction. Here’s the thing: if he only wants justices that disagree with the Varnum opinion of April 3, 2009, it’s very disingenuous for the other four to remain on the court. So, a lot of things that he is saying, you know, we’re applauding right now and at that press conference I did applaud him for the moves he has made in that direction.

Iowa Press moderator Dean Borg: But what you’re saying when you said vice versa — I interpret that as saying he needs me.

Vander Plaats: I don’t know if he needs me that much and I think that’s overplayed a lot. There’s no doubt we have significant support. There is a lot of people in the state of Iowa who are very concerned about pro-family issues. And I don’t think they’re all that concerned about, ‘Does Bob Vander Plaats and Terry Branstad — do they have coffee together on any particular morning?’ They want to know, ‘Can they work together on advancing pro-family issues?’ And I think we can. I think you’re seeing that being played out with this judge process. He is on record as saying we need to change the way we appoint justices to the high court. So, all of those things are showing moves in the right direction and we’re going to applaud him when he does that. If he does something that is anti-family, we’re going to hold him in check.

During the program Vander Plaats called on state legislators to tighten Iowa’s law on late term abortions and he discussed the 2012 presidential campaign at the end of the show.  Vander Plaats said it will take a “consistent conservative” to win the hearts and minds of Republican voters in 2012.

Vander Plaats also suggested GOP candidates may want to “be the Fred Thompson” of the 2012 cycle and enter the race late, after Labor Day, like Thompson did in September of 2008. But Vander Plaats also suggested to be successful on that Fred Thompson route, a candidate needs to add a dose of charisma to inspire voters in a way that Thompson failed to do when Thompson entered late ‘o8.

Legislative leaders discuss ’11 session

Two Democrats and two Republicans — two from the House and two from the Senate — are on a panel this morning organized by  The first topic was budget-cutting. 

Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley said Republicans want to cut what “isn’t absolutely required” in the state budget because of declining state tax revenues & the economic situation.  He said voters had sent a “directive” to legislators:  “People believe govt has grown too big & is spending too much…We will be as aggressive as we can be.”

Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, struck a conciliatory tone.  “I don’t see any reason why Senate Democrats won’t look at (budget cuts)…I don’t know that we ought to stand in the way of that.”

Kibbie then suggested the Iowa Power Fund — a program launched by Governor Culver to assist development of the renewable energy industry — might continue, but under a different name because the state still needs to support the industry. “When administrations change, those things continue, but they continue under a new name,” he said.

House Majority Leader-elect Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Garner, told the crowd here at Drake it’s likely the first bill to be debated in the Iowa House in 2011 will “deappropriate” money from the current year’s budget.  She said Republicans will try to pursue budget cut ideas they’ve talked about for the past few years, like selling off state-owned vehicles and leasing vehicles for state employee travel instead.

She took aim at the sabbaticals for professors at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University & the University of Northern Iowa which were recently approved by the state Board of Regents.  Upmeyer said some sabbaticals which yield research grants may be needed.  “But I don’t think Iowans are interested in paying for a sabbatical to study the growth of billiards in the Phillippines,” she said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Des Moines Democrat who will be the minority leader in the House in 2011, said Upmeyer and other Republicans wouldn’t get much savings from suspending sabbaticals and “poking” professors “in the eye.”  

[Read more…]

Ternus speaks, First Lady calls Ternus defeat “travesty” (AUDIO)

Chief Justice Marsha Ternus is being honored at a luncheon in Ames today.  The Youth and Shelter Services organization based in Ames is giving Ternus this year’s “outstanding contribution to the well-being of children and youth” award.

First Lady Mari Culver, an attorney, and a 16-year-old from Gilbert who lives with a foster family and who has become an advocate for other kids in foster care will present the award.  The “one child/one judge” policy Ternus instituted for child welfare cases moving through the court system is cited by the group as a major achievement in Ternus’ tenure as chief justice.

The luncheon began with a representative of the Friends of Iowa Civil Rights organization giving Youth & Shelter Services an award.   

“You may not know this, but Iowa has a tremendous history of civil rights,” he said.  “…We hope there will be some changes in the future to help our state realize the importance of what has just happened.”

That was a reference to November’s judicial retention election which saw voters oust Ternus and two other justices from the Iowa Supreme Court.  YSS filed a friend of the court brief in the Varnum v Brien case (the gay marriage case that was the central issue of the judicial retention election.)

George Belitsos, founder and CEO of YSS, said 15 to 20 percent of the runaway kids in homeless shelters across the country “are struggling with sexual identity issues.” Belitsos said one of the goals of YSS is to “teach tolerance to the next generation.”

Belitsos did not mention Varnum v Brien, but he indirectly made a reference to the ruling and to the judicial retention election. “I challenge all of you in this room…we’re called by our conscience to respond with a lot more force and much more courage to fight bigotry, to influence public policy and to protect our vulnerable youth,” Belitsos said.

A series of awards are being given to organizations like the Principal and individuals who help homeless youth through Youth & Shelter Services.  I suspect the award to Ternus is the final one to be given today.

A couple who have been foster parents to 17 children were honored, and then First Lady Mari Culver came to stage to present Ternus her award. 

“I’m very pleased to recognize the leader of Iowa’s courts who has been vital to the success and the future of this state’s children and youth,” Culver said to begin.   Culver then went through the highlights of the Ternus resume, including her appointment to the Supreme Court in 1993 by then-Governor Terry Branstad and her elected in 2006 by her fellow justices to serve as chief of the court.

“Her statewide policy of one judge/one child has had a major positive impact on the welfare of children and youth,” Culver said, noting a series of different judges used to handle a child’s case as it moved from one jurisdiction to another.

“As a spokesperson, Justice Ternus has recruited hundreds of…volunteers to serve as advocates for children,”  Culver said.

The 16-year-old said she had been put into foster care when she was five and she was adopted at age 9, then put back into foster care five years later because the adoption didn’t go well.  “I’ve had the same judge,” Rogers said of her .  “…If you change judges, the judge will not know what is going on…Thanks to Justice Ternus, I have the same judge as I had when I was five years old.”

The crowd stood to give a standing ovation to the young women, who choked back tears as she told her story. 

“The political season is over, so I guess I can speak my mind,” Culver then said, and the crowd erupted in applause.  “What happened in the November elections with the Iowa court system is a stain on the history of our state.”

More applause. “It is a travesty that this very highly-respected leader…who ensured justice for the most vulnerable in our courts, the children, will be leaving the Supreme Court because of a well-funded partisan campaign to oust three supreme court justices because of a single decision with which they disagreed. An independent, impartial judiciary that bases decisions on the rule of law is the foundation of our state and our democracy and our delivery of justice in Iowa.”

More applause.

“The selection and retention of judges in this state must remain free from the infusion of petty, partisan politics.  Chief Justice Ternus, your departure is a loss not only to the court and to the whole state, but to the children and the youth of our state” Culver said.   

Culver called Ternus forward. Ternus praised the young woman who told her foster care story. “I’m afraid all of my composure was taken away,” Ternus said.

“There is no more important contribution that any of us can make to the society than to help children and families in need,” Ternus said.  “…When I joined the court in 1993, I had no idea my work…would include advocacy for children…I had not only an opportunity but an obligation as a member of the Iowa Supreme Court to foster the contributions that the court system could make in working with agencies…to do everything we could for the vulnerable children of our state. When we ensure that our children have a good upbringing, we give them the tools they need to become responsible, productive and happy adults…They’re just kids and they’ve had a bad break, but they all have wonderful potential if we care enough.”

“…I am truly thankful for the opportunities that I have had as a member of the court to advocate on behalf of children and families.  It’s the most important work that I have ever done,” Ternus said, her voice breaking with emotion. “And thank you for this award.”

Listen to the event: TernusAward

McCarthy: shoulda waited, Chet

State Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Des Moines Democrat who has been House Majority Leader and was just elected by his peers to serve as House Minority Leader in the next General Assembly, is one of two guests on this weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television.  The other guest is Doug Gross, a Des Moines lawyer who has been a long-time confidant of Governor-elect Terry Branstad.  Gross once served as Branstad’s chief of staff.  (In case you’re new to all this, Branstad served four terms as governor, took 12 years off, and just got himself elected to a fifth term.)

During the first portion of the show. the two men talked about the impact of this year’s judicial retention election and what judicial retention elections in Iowa may look like in the future. 

“It won’t be the same.  It could be, actually, worse,” Gross said when comparing the 2010 judicial retention election with the one looming in 2012.  “…The only way to neutralize that caldron is you’ve got to allow the people an opportunity to vote on the amendment (to the state constitution which would ban gay marriage).  This is like a pressure cooker without a release valve.”

Governor Culver has said if the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission presents him with a list of names to fill the three vacancies on the Iowa Supreme Court, he won’t hestitate to appoint new justices.   Fellow Democrat McCarthy cautioned against that.

“It’s my guess that the commission won’t have the process done in such a way that would allow (Culver) to appoint, so it’s probably a moot point, but it is something he should not do because there’s always appearances and then there’s reality  The appearance would be such that the will of the people will be subverted,” McCarthy said on the show. “…The voters spoke and I think it would be a mistake to try to do something that looks like it would be against what just happened in the election.”

Justice David Wiggins is the next member of the Iowa Supreme Court to face a retention vote.  His name will be on the ballot in 2012.  Wiggins spoke tonight at a forum in Des Moines, reading from notes as he delivered a 7-minute opening statement.  Wiggins talked about his new role as chair of the Judicial Nominating Commission.  The senior justice on the court who is NOT the chief justice serves as chair of the Judicial Nominating Commission.  The senior judge who’s currently in that role is Mark Cady, but the court today announced he’ll be the interim chief justice in January.  

Back to this weekend’s Iowa Press episode now.  McCarthy and Gross also discussed the pay deal Culver struck with AFSCME.  McCarthy said Culver “should have waited” and handed off the negotiations to his successor.

Court names interim chief justice

Iowa Supreme Court Justicfe Mark Cady will serve as the interim chief justice.  The current chief justice, Marsha Ternus, was voted off the court last month, along with two other justices, in a judicial retention election that largely hinged on voter dissatisfaction with the court’s Varnum v Brien decision in April of 2009 which paved the way for gay marriage in Iowa.  Cady was the justice who wrote that unanimous opinion.

Cady was appointed an associate district court judge by then-Governor Terry Branstad in 1983 and then elevated by Branstad to serve as a district court judge in 1986.  Branstad appointed Cady to the state’s highest court during his fourth term as governor.

Cady is the senior judge among the four who remain on the court.  The court’s announcement this afternoon does not indicate who will replace Cady on the Judicial Nominating Commission.  The senior judge on the court — who is not the chief justice — serves on that panel.

Cady’s current term on the court expires on December 31, 2016. 

Read the court’s announcement:

Justice Cady to Serve as Chief Justice While Court Awaits New Members

 Des Moines, December 2, 2010— The Iowa Supreme Court has selected Justice Mark S. Cady, Ft. Dodge, to serve as chief justice, beginning January 1, 2011. Justice Cady was appointed to the court by Governor Terry Branstad in 1998. He replaces Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, whose term expires December 31, 2010. Once three new justices are selected to replace Chief Justice Ternus, Justice Michael Streit, and Justice David Baker, and assume their duties, the court will hold another vote for chief justice to allow the new justices to participate in the selection.

“Once I assume the duties of chief justice in January, my foremost concern will be to do all I can to support the work of Iowa’s high caliber court system and to expand the public’s access to justice,” said Justice Cady. “I look forward to working with Governor Branstad and the legislature on these and other matters affecting the administration of justice.”

Huckabee: I can beat Obama, too (AUDIO)

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is scheduled to keynote an Iowa Family Policy Center event this Sunday afternoon.  He spoke with reporters before it started. Listen to the mp3 of the 15-minute news conference: HuckabeeSunday

As for where he is in the decision-making process about another bid for the White House in 2012, this is what Huckabee said:

Honestly, I’m not on a time table. I’m not on somebody’s calendar to say, ‘This is the time when I have to decide.’ Am I keeping the option open? Yes.  Am I open to it, considering it and giving, you know, thought?  Of course.  I think I would be foolish not to in light of having been through it,understanding what it’s about.

“…I’m in a very different position than I was four years ago when I was an asterisk in the polls and most people didn’t think that I was even going to be serious and this time, in most of the national polls, I’m either the top or near the top and that certainly is a different position to be in, but it doesn’t mean that I’m automatically going to do it either. There’s a lot of deep, internal soul-searching and another thing for me is that, as I’ve told many people, I don’t plan to jump in a pool unless there’s water in it.”

In response to a question about it, Huckabee said a statement he made on FOX News Sunday that it would be “less than likely” that he would run in 2012 had been taken “completely out of context.”

“I was being asked…essentially, if you had to make the decision today. Well, I didn’t have to make the decision today,”Huckabee said. “…That was not an indication of a complete lack of interest or a denial and I think it was reported that ‘Huckabee says he won’t run’ and I’ve never said that…That was a year ago.  Ask me in six months and I’ll have a clearer answer.”

Huckabee was asked if a Sarah Palin candidacy would discourage him from running.

“One of the things I’ve learned in politics is you never make your decisions based on what other people are going to do or don’t do because, first of all, they can change their minds,”Huckabee said. “And, second of all, the one thing I learned running four marathons is you run your race, your pace.  You do not go out there and look around and constantly wonder what somebody else is going to do.

“No question she will be a very, very strong presence and force if she gets in, you know, she may run away with it and that’s one of those things that everybody as to be prepared for, but the decision I make won’t be based on what she does. If I get in it, I would prefer that she not and that she endorse me.”

Huckabee laughed, as did the three Iowa Family Policy Center people flanking Huckabee as he stood before the cameras.  Huckabee quickly continued:  “But if she does then, you know, I welcome her because that I think she’s got a very strong and important voice and has brought a lot of energy to the grassroots of the Republican Party and that I think is very, very positive by anybody’s standards.”

A reporter noted that Palin said this week she could beat Obama, then asked Hucakbee: Could you?

“I always believed I could,”Huckabee said. “I wouldn’t have run the last time if I didn’t think I could and the good news for me is a majority of American voters seem to think that. In the last poll, I was the only one who polled above (Obama) outside the margin of error.”

Huckabee a few moments later said as he mulls a run in 2012, he’s considering how to finance a campaign. “I’m probably going to give more weight to that this time than I did before because I understand far better than I can even begin to tell you how tough it is to run a campaign on fumes, without fuel,” he said.

[Read more…]

24 hours after the polls close

Here’s a review of some of the stuff that’s happened in the 24 hours since the polls closed in Iowa on the 2010 election:

Ben Lange, the Republican candidate in Iowa’s first congressional district, conceded this morning and posted a statement on his campaign website

“This morning I reached out to Congressman Braley to congratulate him on his victory. I wish him the best as he goes back to Washington to represent us in Congress.  It’s a difficult job, and these are difficult times.  It’s my hope that our campaign has brought to light new solutions to confront our greatest challenges.

Our grassroots campaign came a long way since January and I’m proud of the campaign we waged. We drew our line in the sand and we stood our ground against long odds without ever compromising our principles. We worked tirelessly to restore the American Dream, and I’m so proud of what we accomplished in such a short period of time.

Governor-elect Terry Branstad held a news conference at about midnight, right after he’d deliverd his victory speech to supporters in West Des Moines.  Branstad told reporters Governor Chet Culver should not appoint three new justices to the Iowa Supreme Court to replace the ones who were kicked off the bench in Tuesday’s voting.

Governor Culver called into the Radio Iowa newsroom this afternoon, discussing the campaign and his future.  Culver also responded to Branstad:

…Culver’s not ruling out choosing three new justices for the court.

“We’ll see,” Culver says. “And if Terry Branstad and I don’t agree, it won’t be the first time.”

Voter turnout in Iowa for Tuesday’s election was 52 percent.  Secretary of State Michael Mauro talked with Radio Iowa today about the numbers, and about his own race.

…The Democrat from Des Moines narrowly lost to Republican Matt Schultz, a lawyer who currently serves on the Council Bluffs City Council. “I’m feeling disappointed, but life goes on,” Mauro told Radio Iowa. “I know I gave it my best shot.” 

Gay marriage & gambling:  while voters decided to eject three of the justices who signed onto the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court opinion which paved the way for same-sex marriage in Iowa, voters approved gambling referendums in 17 counties by large margins.

The Branstad transition:  Branstad’s campaign is transforming into a transition team.  See details in the news release issued this morning:

Branstad announces key transition team and administration appointments
Roederer, Boeyink, and Albrecht to assume key roles

[Read more…]