New group launches 'Yes on Retention' campaign for Iowa judges

Battle lines forming well ahead of Nov. 6 vote

Justice David Wiggins asks a question as the Iowa Supreme Court listened to oral arguments in the Varnum v. Brien case, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008. (John Gaps III/The Des Moines Register)
Justice David Wiggins asks a question as the Iowa Supreme Court listened to oral arguments in the Varnum v. Brien case, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008. (John Gaps III/The Des Moines Register)

Leaders of a newly formed Justice Not Politics Action group announced plans Wednesday to launch a “Yes on Retention” campaign in support of all Iowa justices and judges whose names will appear on the ballot in Iowa's Nov. 6 general election.

The group plans to kick off its grassroots voter outreach effort with events in Iowa City on Saturday and Indianola on Sunday, organizers said.

“Iowa judges have a strong tradition of ruling based on the law,” said Sally Pederson, former Iowa lieutenant governor and chairwoman of Justice Not Politics Action.

“Iowa Democrats, Republicans and independents need to stand together to prevent out-of-state special interest groups from intimidating our judges by threatening to spend millions to oust them,” Pederson said in a statement. “Voting yes for retention on the back of your ballot is a vote to protect our courts, and to stop the groups trying to intimidate judges.”

Organizers said Justice Not Politics Action plans to engage supporters and volunteers to encourage Iowa voters to “flip their ballots” and vote in favor of retaining the justices and judges whose names will appear on the back of the general-election ballot.

The Iowa City event is set for 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at a tailgate for the Iowa vs. UNI football. Justice Not Politics plans to sign up supporters and distributing campaign materials at the event. Zach Wahls, the Iowan whose personal testimony to the Iowa Legislature in support of marriage equality went viral last year, will also attend the event.

Wednesday’s announcement came in advance of the Sept. 24 launch of a statewide “No Wiggins” bus tour being organized by Iowans for Freedom, a project of the Pleasant Hill-based Family Leader organization. Iowans for Freedom organizers say the purpose of their tour is to bring awareness to Iowans regarding the significance of this fall’s retention election and to specifically “educate Iowans about the need to uphold and affirm judicial integrity by removing politics from the court via activist judges, like Judge Wiggins.”


The bus tour -- sponsored by CitizenLink, the Family Leader, the National Organization for Marriage and -- seeks to mobilize opposition among Iowa voters to oust Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, one of seven justices who issued a unanimous decision in April 2009 ruling the state’s one-man, one-woman marriage law unconstitutional and effectively legalizing civil marriages between partners of the same gender.

A similar effort in 2010 led to the removal of former Iowa Supreme Court Justices Marsha Ternus, Michael Streit and David Baker, following their defeats in retention votes that election cycle.

In announcing the bus tour, Bob Vander Plaats, state chairman of Iowans for Freedom, said: “We are very passionate about our effort to restore integrity to the Iowa Supreme Court by ensuring the constitutional intent for the separation of powers.

“The court on April 3, 2009, brought in divisive politics and Iowans responded,” he added. “In 2010, over a half million Iowans began the accountability process with the removal of three Iowa Supreme Court judges and we believe the job must be finished. This is a freedom issue and we believe that voting “No” on Wiggins will help preserve freedoms, the constitution, and the integrity of the judicial system.”



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