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CLEAR LAKE - Retired District Judge Gil Bovard said Wednesday voters' decisions not to retain three Supreme Court justices could have an impact on the quality of future judges.

"One of the immediate responses will be in finding capable, available attorneys who want to be judges," said Bovard, who served on the bench from 1983 to 1998 and then served for several years as a senior judge in various capacities.

"What you're going to get is actors - campaigners who want the job. It's an entirely new concept."

The three justices - Chief Justice Marsha Turnus and Justices David Baker and Michael Strait - were part of a unanimous court decision last year that allows same-sex marriages.

Tuesday's vote to oust them was the result of a campaign waged by people opposed to that decision.

"They were targeted. There's no question about that," said Bovard. "They ruled on a constitutional issue which is their duty."

He said voters tampered with a judicial system that is "universally envied because it's clean."

Bovard said the Constitution establishes duties for the branches of government.

"The legislature has the unquestioned constitutional authority to make laws. When they mess up, the court has the constitutional authority to tell them what they meant to say," he said.

In Washington, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council PAC, the organization that came to Iowa campaigning for the justices' ouster, said, "The people of Iowa have reclaimed their right to govern themselves, under a Constitution whose meaning is clear, by removing these three activist judges from power.

"If judges want to legislate, they should resign and run for office - not exploit their positions on the bench to reshape law and society as they wish."

In Des Moines, Frank Carroll, president of the Iowa State Bar Association, said Iowa's judges and justices "will continue to focus on the law and not allow political influence and campaign money to impact the decisions they make.

"If, however, the results of this election encourage future big-money retention battles, Iowans risk politically influential parties or large campaign contributors having an unfair advantage in Iowa's courtrooms," he said.

"Big money campaigns will likely also discourage many highly qualified lawyers from becoming judges."

 

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