GOP Iowa Governor: Anti-Gay Groups Likely To Try To Oust Another Iowa Marriage Equality Justice

Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins

In 2010, anti-gay groups such as the Mississippi-based hate group the American Family Association spent close to $800,000 to remove three Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined that court’s unanimous decision holding that marriage equality is required by the Iowa constitution. This fall, Justice David Wiggins is also up for a retention election, and Iowa’s GOP Gov. Terry Branstad recently announced that a similar campaign against Wiggins is likely. Wiggins, however, actually plans to fight back:

Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins vows he won’t stand quietly by if opponents of same-sex marriage launch a potent campaign to oust him from the bench.

“If someone wants to attack me, I’m not going to let them bully me,” Wiggins said in a telephone interview last week with The Des Moines Register. “If asked to, I’ll speak up for myself. The others didn’t do that last time. I will.”

Justice Wiggins’ statement that he actually plans to campaign to keep his job should not seem all that remarkable, if it were not for the fact that his three former colleagues essentially threw their retention races in 2010 by refusing to do the same:

[Former Justice David] Baker, in his speech accepting the Profile in Courage Award, said that he, Streit and Ternus made a deliberate decision not to form campaign committees in 2010.

“Our founding fathers chose wisely to not have judges in a political position,” Baker told the audience, which included Wiggins. “Had we chosen to form campaigns, we would have tacitly admitted that we were what we claimed not to be — politicians. … We strongly believed that the people of Iowa did not want us to be in the position of raising money for a campaign.”

Pretending that you are above the fray may be a lovely way to earn awards, but it is no way to win an election. Moreover, by effectively throwing their elections, Baker, Streit and Ternus did a whole lot more to undermine judicial independence than they did to protect it — their defeats only emboldened their opponents, and encouraged more efforts to apply political pressure to judges.