New Poll Shows Iowa Judges Headed for Election Loss

Judges are elected in Iowa, the first Midwest state to sanction same sex marriage by judicial fiat in Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W. 2d 862 (2009). It appears that the judges who rendered that opinion which changed the nature of marriage in Iowa may not be judges for much longer.

A shocking new poll on the front page of the Des Moines Register shows that for the first time in history, a month before the election, the judicial election race is a toss-up. J. Ann Selzer, the pollster for The Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll, says, "I think it suggests that some justices, and perhaps all, will be removed. It lines up along Democrat and Republican lines pretty easily, except for low-income voters, which is typically a Democratic constituency."

"Those poll numbers are stunning," said Brian T. Fitzpatrick, a Vanderbilt University associate law professor who has followed Iowa's retention debate. "It is virtually unheard-of for a judge to lose a retention race." The National Organization for Marriage (www.nationformarriage.org) views this phenomenon as an opportunity for Iowans to communicate their belief in the rule of law and their judiciary to uphold it, rather than make new law.

1 comment:

  1. The vote is in, three Iowa justices are out. While many who believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman are rejoicing at the removal of the three Iowa justices who sanctioned same-sex “marriage,” I believe that there is some cause for concern when the retention of judges is subjected to the popular vote. Certainly, at first blush this sounds like a wonderful example of democracy at work—the voice of the people is heard. But our nation is not founded on a pure democracy, it is a representative democracy. The three branches of government are in place to act as a checks on each other. For example, the independence of the Federal judicial branch from the popular vote is intended precisely to protect the judiciary from the whims of the majority.

    This raises the question: If judges are not exposed to a popular vote, what is to be done with justices who, like those in Iowa, arguable did not exhibit the “good behavior” required to uphold the Constitution? It seems preferable to require that the legislature seriously consider their responsibility to hold the justices accountable.