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Is this going to be the Proposition 8 fiasco all over again, where people wake up to find that the other side has successfully mobilized at the ballot box to both override the courts AND public sentiment?

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The last time Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus was on the ballot, nearly half of voters didn't bother to weigh in on whether she should keep her job. What a difference eight years and a ruling allowing gay marriage can make.

In Tuesday's election, retention votes for Ternus and justices Michael Streit and David Baker have been drawing nearly as much attention as the races for governor and U.S. Senate. Groups on both sides have aired TV ads, organized campaign bus tours and spotlighted support from politicians ranging from a former Republican governor who supports the judges to nationally known Republicans who back their ouster.

"The whole issue of same-sex marriage has become a very threatening issue to a significant portion of the population," said Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford. "Kicking out those three justices would be a warning shot across the judiciary's bow."

The lesson, it seems, from this attack on the judges and from Prop 8 is that a legal precedent, in itself, does not nail down a change.  There's still efforts at the ballot box that might have to be met.  While court rulings in Massachusetts weren't challenged, CA's ballot intiative process and Iowa's retention elections provide a means to "overrule" the courts.  

And these retention votes are way down ballot, where most people don't vote, leaving us vulnerable to the voters who have been scared witless by Beck and their pastors.

In Illinois, there is a supreme court justice who is being branded as "anti crime" by a pro business group that couldn't care less about crime, just to punish the justice for his pro-consumer votes.

Turn out, vote every office.

UPDATE: All three justices were removed.

see this diary:

Tonight, all three of the Iowa Supreme Court justices up for reelection were ousted.  And now that the homophobes have won, they've promised to bring it to your doorstep.  That's not a threat: it's a promise, and their victory tonight guarantees that they'll be shoring up their position in other states.

Originally posted to Inland on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 07:20 AM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, 2laneIA, julifolo, Sun dog, sanglug, cocinero, Aji

    Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

    by Inland on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 07:20:00 AM PDT

  •  what happens if those judges lose? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, theran

    will Iowa's marriage equality be up in the air again?

    It's like we're all part of some avant-garde role playing story called "The Election" by Franz Kafka.

    by terrypinder on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 07:21:37 AM PDT

  •  To the GOP activists trying to oust them (6+ / 0-)

    "activist judges" are judges who make decisions you don't like.  We don't want judges willing to make political decisions.  That is not justice.

  •  Been leaning on all my Iowa friends (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, cooper888

    to make sure to vote on this.

    When it's Republicans stomping your head into the street, heck, that's as much your fault as theirs. That's just balanced.

    by Sun dog on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 07:35:44 AM PDT

  •  please explain this more to me (0+ / 0-)

    Iowa Supreme court judges are not directly elected, but can be easily recalled by popular vote?

    and judges that are recalled are replaced by appointment?  

    doesn't make any sense.  

    •  It's a mixed system. (0+ / 0-)

      We have retention votes too; judges have to be recalled once they are on the bench.  It rarely happens.

      In Iowa, it's even MORE mixed, in that the govenor picks from some list of "merit" put up by a commission.  

      I doubt I understand it well, but then again, I doubt most Iowan pay attention anyway.

      Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

      by Inland on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 07:46:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hmm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1) The decision was unanimous, so replacing less than a majority of the sitting justices would not affect the outcome if Iowa passed another piece of legislation targeting gays.  

    2) Voters do not select candidates; it is a merit based process with the governor selecting from a commission's list of recommendations.  The commission itself is fairly depoliticized, with state bar members voting for seven members, seven members selected by the governor with state senate confirmation, and the senior justice of the Supreme Court (but not the chief justice) serving as the tie breaker and chair.

     So yes in some elections this is true.  But proposition 8 was aimed at gays, not judges.  It singled out gays as a class to deprive them of rights by amending the constitution directly.  Justice Cady, for example, was appointed by Governor Brandstand, a Republican.  Additionally, I would note that all but I believe one of the California justices were selected by Republicans.  Similarly, the justices in the majority in Massachusetts included Republicans.  By contrast, anti-gay Democrats in the judiciary in other states have torpedoed gay rights.  The anti-gay decision upholding the criminalization of homosexuality in 1986 was written by a Democrat; the 2003 decision overturning Bowers, Lawrence, was written by a Republican.

     Indeed it does matter, but the truth is more nuanced than Democrats would probably prefer.

    "All along the watchtower, princes kept the view..."

    by Alec82 on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 07:43:34 AM PDT

    •  Strange opinion. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Strangely enough, you are saying the recall effort isn't aimed at gays, even as the recall effort is explicitly aimed at these judges solely because of their decision on gay marriage.

      Morevoer, the concept that "voters don't select judges" is naive.   As they say, judges read the election returns.  It's also an old saw about the "switch in time that saved nine".  And the idea that governors are going to reappoint judges who would rule the same way after the recall, as if any "depoliticized" list would include only pro gay marriage judges...well, let's just say that you can "nuance" yourself into selecting the second choice in the poll and another prop 8 type fiasco.

      Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

      by Inland on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 07:56:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except I have provided.. (0+ / 0-)

        ...a list of several factors that mitigate against a difference in outcome here.  You're right, there's certainly every reason for gays and their allies to focus on those races, but this is not equivalent to Proposition 8 or any of the other 28 or so anti-gay amendments passed with Democrat support.  Those bipartisan hate fests were far more direct in their effects.  

        Of course, you think civil unions are A OK anyway as an alternative, so why do you even care? Isn't it your position that gays are whining about Obama and should just grow up? Yeah thought so.

        "All along the watchtower, princes kept the view..."

        by Alec82 on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 08:00:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  (...........) (0+ / 0-)

          this is not equivalent to Proposition 8

          Well, by your measure, not even Prop 8 is equivalent to Prop 8, since you hope that something is going to pull the chestnuts out of the fire after political malpractice throws them in.  Such political malpractice such as the type exhibited by your comments, where you don't think the recall efforts are "directed against gays" but that I am, the latter being what you really wanted to talk about.

          Don't hijack my diary.  

          Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

          by Inland on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 08:09:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I pointed out.. (0+ / 0-)

            ...several problems with the premise of your diary, including a few political presuppositions that lack a factual basis. You admit that you do not even know how justices of the state supreme court are selected in Iowa; when I point it out, you attack instead of listening and seeing how it changes the analysis.

            "All along the watchtower, princes kept the view..."

            by Alec82 on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 08:13:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Now you're just trollling. (0+ / 0-)


              Isn't it your position that gays are whining about Obama and should just grow up? Yeah thought so.

              And this:

              You admit that you do not even know how justices of the state supreme court are selected in Iowa;

              What's really embarrassing for you is that you think you're fighting the good fight.  More political malpractice.


              Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

              by Inland on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 08:19:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Same purpose, different consequences. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyesoars, Alec82

      The campaign to vote "no" on retaining the Iowa judges is absolutely based on opposition to same-sex marriage and even outright homophobia. The groups funding the vote-no campaign include the National Organization for Marriage and the Mississippi-based hate group, American Family Association. Iowa supporters include congressman Steve King.

      The consequences of the vote will not be like Prop. 8. If the vote-no people succeed, it will not outlaw same-sex marriage in the short term, or, maybe, even in the long term. Overturning the ruling that the Iowa DOMA is unconstitutional will require an amendment to the Iowa constitution--a difficult process.

      •  Yes, but the difference in consequences.. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        exotrip, cocinero quite striking.  For starters, the vetting process for new candidates could begin as early as December and be completed in time for Culver to select the incoming justices, assuming that any of the three lose their seats.  Second, there's absolutely no guarantee that the attorneys selected through the vetting process would reach a different result than the justices that were replaced.  Third, even if they all opposed same-sex marriage and the decision reached in 2009, they would not constitute a majority, which would be required to overcome the result of Varnum. Finally, one of the justices sitting on the court, and part of its unanimous decision, was appointed by Brandstad, who is running against Culver.  And if I recall correctly, Brandstad supports a vote on a constitutional amendment but took no position on the judiciary.

        To compare it to Proposition 8 is to compare apples and oranges.  Both may be motivated by anti-gay animus, but everything else is different.  Additionally, there's a percentage of voters who might be inspired to get rid of justices just to oust incumbents, given the mood of the country.    

        "All along the watchtower, princes kept the view..."

        by Alec82 on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 08:54:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This Situaiton (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    julifolo, cocinero

    Is the reason that I am fundamentally opposed to the electorate weighing in on whether judges should have their jobs at any time, whether it is right wing judge or a more progressive one.  They shouldn't be elected, and they shouldn't have to be confirmed.  Short of gross deriliction of duty or impeachable offenses, they should be able to rule free from interference from politics - otherwise they are not the check that the judicial role is supposed to play.

    We all scream about removing them when they don't rule the way we like but don't recognize that our political enemies can use the ballot box when judicial rulings we love upset them, just as much as we can, to shape the law to what they want.

    If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

    by shanikka on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 08:10:49 AM PDT

    •  I am confused by this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They shouldn't be elected, and they shouldn't have to be confirmed.

      (emphasis supplied).

      If you mean that the voters should not play a role in confirming them, I agree.  But the judiciary is ultimately a branch of government, and it cannot be completely insulated from politics.  Iowa has an excellent selection system, the so-called "Missouri Plan," and whatever criticism I might have of their retention election process, they have a system in place that is superior to virtually any other selection process.  

      "All along the watchtower, princes kept the view..."

      by Alec82 on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 08:18:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There's a related back-of-the ballot issue. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Every ten years (and this is the year), Iowa voters can vote to have a constitutional convention. The convention can propose one or more amendments to the constitution which must be presented to the voters for their approval. There has never been a constitutional convention.

    This year, the Iowa Catholic Conference is asking voters to vote yes on the con con question in order to present an amendment banning same-sex marriage.

  •  From my point of view, this is what the anti-gay (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Inland, cocinero

    groups are going for:

    Get three "liberal, activist" judges off the bench.  Get Branstad in office so that he can select the 'appropriate' judges (ie anti-rights).  Then get a constitutional convention to put forward their views.  The convention can write up amendments, but they don't pass them.  They have to go to the vote.  It's an attempt to by-pass the state legislature and codify their position.

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