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Iowa GOP party chairman seeks to oust Justice over gay marriage vote

Thursday, August 2, 2012
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DES MOINES, Iowa — The chairman of the Iowa state Republican Party is pushing for the removal of another Iowa Supreme Court Justice who voted as part of a unanimous 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

In an e-mail to supporters on Wednesday, A.J. Spiker called for voters to remove Justice David Wiggins from the Court as a way to “help end the bullying of activist judges once and for all.”

A ballot question in the upcoming the Nov. 6 general election will ask voters whether or not Wiggins should be allowed to retain his seat on the high court.

Iowa GOP party chairman, A.J. Spiker

Wiggins is the fourth justice to come up for a retention vote since the court’s unanimous ruling in spring 2009. The first three justices, Marsha Ternus, David Baker and Michael Streit, were ousted by Iowa voters in the Fall of 2010 after an intense lobbying campaign led by anti-gay conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, and the National Organization for Marriage.

“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,” Spiker said, in a statement.

“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.

“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.”

Marriage equality has been a political hot button in Iowa since the unanimous 2009 ruling that led to legalization of same-sex marriage, but there has been little urgency behind the issue this year.

Conservatives have unsuccessfully pushed for the Iowa Legislature to allow the public to vote on a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The three former justices were presented the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in May by the late president’s daughter Caroline Kennedy at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. They were chosen “in recognition of the political courage and judicial independence each demonstrated in setting aside popular opinion to uphold the basic freedoms and security guaranteed to all citizens under the Iowa constitution.”

Iowa justices are appointed by the governor and serve an initial term of office that is one year after appointment and until January 1 following the next judicial retention election after expiration of such year. The regular term of office of justices retained at election is eight years.

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