Iowans keep judge who was part of gay marriage decision

2012-11-07T01:47:00Z 2012-11-07T01:51:23Z Iowans keep judge who was part of gay marriage decisionBy Trish Mehaffey Mason City Globe Gazette
November 07, 2012 1:47 am  • 

DES MOINES — Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins is keeping his job.

The Iowa State Bar Association late last night said its analysis showed that Iowans had rejected the “harmful and ill-conceived” efforts to oust Wiggins, one of the justices involved in the Varnum decision that led to the legalization of gay marriage in Iowa.

With 1,555 of the Iowa’s 1,689 precincts reporting, unofficial results showed 641,218 “yes” votes to retain Wiggins to 539,238 “no” votes.

Justices Edward Mansfield, Thomas Waterman and Bruce Zager, who also stood for retention on Tuesday’s ballot, had more than 775,000 “yes” votes for retention.

Iowa State Bar Association President Cynthia Moser of Des Moines applauded the decision to retain all the judges and justices on the ballot, saying it shows citizens are confident in the state’s merit system for selecting judges and that they want to maintain fair and impartial courts.

“The citizens have spoken, and they won’t allow outside money to impact the courts,” Moser said.

Connie Ryan Terrell, chairperson of Justice Not Politics, said the result shows it’s important to the people of Iowa to protect their courts.

Conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats said earlier he thinks Iowans are again sending a clear message to hold “activist” judges accountable. It shows judges that “Iowans are watching.”

This is the second anti-retention campaign led by Vander Plaats and special interest groups after the first campaign in 2010 successfully ousted three Iowa Supreme Court justices over the Varnum ruling. In that decision, the justices unanimously ruled the state’s Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional because it failed to provide equal protection for all. The ruling led to legalizing same-sex marriage in Iowa

Vander Plaats claimed the three justices went against the will of the people. He took a similar stance against Wiggins but also cited Wiggins’ low rating on the lowa Judicial Performance Review completed by attorneys who belong to the Iowa State Bar Association. Wiggins received a retention recommendation of 63.3 percent of the respondents, which is satisfactory but lower than the other three justices up for retention.

This year, the state bar association and Justice Not Politics launched a more aggressive pro-retention campaign to educate voters about the state’s merit selection process for judges. Members of the bar association spoke to community organizations and held events to explain the Varnum decision.

This retention vote is being watched around the country because some believe it’s the “barometer” for the shifting views on same-sex marriage. Many on the pro-retention side have said in recent weeks they thought Iowans who voted against the justices in 2010 now regret that vote.


Trish Mehaffey is a reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Copyright 2015 Mason City Globe Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. dtb
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    dtb - November 07, 2012 10:03 am
    My comment here was to speak to the numbers and not get involved in a SSM conversation. Yes, the swing in numbers is also important and if I had not run out of characters I would have menitoned it. I suspect that the passage of time helped this swing as the issue is not nearly as hot. We are all more concerned with the economy and that concern is common to everyone regardless of sexual preference, in my humble opinion.
  2. Scotsman
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    Scotsman - November 07, 2012 9:49 am
    "I think the message is in the numbers."

    Absolutely correct - but you are ignoring what the numbers mean. You have to consider the swing between the net retention vote outcome in 2010 vs. the net retention vote outcome in 2012. That is the directional number to consider. Attitudes about gay people and their rights have been shifting positively each year. With the IA Senate remaining in D control, you'd better get used to SSM (easy to do, since it has absolutely zero impact on your life).
  3. Scotsman
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    Scotsman - November 07, 2012 9:35 am
    Sanity restored. BVP can now slither back under his rock. Additionally, the SSM legalization votes and referendums that came out positively for gay couples in four other states merely reflects the changing attitudes toward gay people in this country. Why people refuse to see this is beyond me. In 10 years, social conservatives will consider it trendy to have a gay friend or family member. (just a little humor, don't go crazy over it)
  4. dtb
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    dtb - November 07, 2012 9:32 am
    No, I do not think that the message is for Vander Plaats to leave the state. I think the message is in the numbers. According to my math the judge remains in the office with a 10% edge, a mere 100,000 votes made the difference out of 1-million votes. If, in your own job, you only please 60% of your customers how long will you have your job? A judge needs to follow the constitution and NOT invent meaning in the law.
  5. Citizen1
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    Citizen1 - November 07, 2012 8:17 am
    I believe the 'clear message' that Iowa is giving Mr. Vander Plaats is to perhaps move to Louisiana and tell people in that state how to live their lives and how to vote.
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