Friday, December 10, 2010

Focus On The Family attorney files lawsuit to remove half of Iowa's Judicial Nominating Commission;
'A right wing campaign to screw up our courts'

James Bopp, Jr.
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Focus On The Family attorney James Bopp Jr., filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of four Iowans alleging that the method used to select finalists for the Iowa Supreme Court denies them a chance to participate equally in the selection of justices and judges.

The suit was filed under the auspices of the James Madison Center for Free Speech in Terre Haute, Ind.

ABC 5 in Des Moines said the nominating commission could start meeting this week to talk about replacements. The lawsuit is expected to be ruled on within the next few weeks.

ABC 5 further noted:
Through their suit they are trying to remove the 7 [of 15] members of the Commission that are members of the Iowa State Bar Association from the nominating equation entirely. They have asked for an immediate court action to stop the Commission from beginning the formal nominating process.
Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids who is a lawyer and vice chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee decried Republican judicial activism.

“This lawsuit clearly is part of a right wing ideological campaign through an out-of-state lawyer to screw up our courts,” Hogg told the Des Moines Register.

The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs, because they are not attorneys, are excluded from the elections of the Elective members and have no say whatsoever in their selection.

Similar federal lawsuits filed in Alaska and Kansas were thrown out earlier this year.

The Des Moines Register quoted Constitutional Law expert Mark Kende: "They have to show that they were injured in some way personally. It's usually a pretty heavy burden for the party seeking an injunction, that would stop the election process of the whole state. That's not to say that it's unprecedented, but it's a very heavy burden, for them to meet."

Kende noted that there's good reason to have a certain amount of lawyers involved in the process, because of their knowledge about the judicial system and its players.

You can read the lawsuit here.

The Des Moines Register profiled the four Iowans (all Republicans) on whose behalf Bopp filed the lawsuit.

They are: Steve Carlson of Woodbury County, Mary Granzow of Polk County, Richard Kettells of Pleasant Hill, and William Ramsey of Black Hawk County.

Carlson made donations to Rod Roberts’ unsuccessful campaign for governor, and to the Woodbury County Republican Central Committee this year, and to the Alons for Representative Committee in 2007.

Campaign finance records show that Granzow donated to the Polk County Republican Central Committee this year. Ramsey donated to Iowa Realtors PAC.

Ramsey lives in Waterloo, Granzow in Johnston, Carlson in Sioux City and Kettells in Pleasant Hill, according to election and campaign records. The lawsuit shows those residences except for Granzow, who is listed as living in Des Moines.

A Steven S. Carlson has been quoted as a regional representative of the Iowa Christian Alliance and wrote an op-ed for the Sioux City Journal supporting U.S. Rep. Steve King, who represents northwestern Iowa.

“What became crystal clear in this election cycle is that a conservative resurgence evidenced itself in America on Nov. 2, 2010, and that this resurgence favors the bold, conservative approach exhibited by Steve King, Michelle Bachman, and others – not the “moderate views” of the past,” Carlson wrote.

A spokesman for the Iowa Christian Alliance, now the Iowa Christian Alliance Education Fund and the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, said Carlson served on the Alliance board. He couldn’t say when or for how long.

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