Ousting the Iowa Judges who Ruled for Same-Sex Marriage

By Maurine Proctor

In an election week of upheavals, designed by voters to send notice of their dismay with the government, one of the more stunning victories was the ousting of three Iowa judges who overturned the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and justices David Baker and Michael Streit were voted off the bench in Tuesday’s election, the first time Iowa voters have removed a Supreme Court justice since the current system began in 1962.

Judges in Iowa are selected by merit, but have to face a retention vote on a rotating schedule every eight years. A seven-member court voted unanimously to strike down the definition of marriage statute in 2009, making Iowa the only mid-western state to legalize gay marriage.

Bob Vander Plaats, the Sioux City businessman who led the campaign to remove the justices said, “The people of Iowa stood up in record numbers and sent a message … that it is ‘We the people,’ not ‘We the courts.'”

The incoming governor, Terry Branstad, who signed the state’s Defense of Marriage Act during his first term 12 years ago will select their replacements. Activists for traditional marriage intend to push for a new statute defending marriage.

The lesson here is that there is a risk of ignoring public opinion on controversial issues. In this election, same-sex marriage was a big loser-as it usually is when it is taken to the people.

The Moral Lib­eral Con­tribut­ing Edi­tor, Mau­rine Proc­tor, is a grad­u­ate of Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, Co-Founder and Edi­tor in Chief of Merid­ian Mag­a­zine, and Pres­i­dent of Fam­ily Leader Foun­da­tion. She has writ­ten and edited sev­eral books, worked for The Chicago Sun-Times and is an award-winning doc­u­men­tary writer and producer.

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