Tuesday, September 25, 2012

No Wiggins bus tour: Sioux City Journal joins Des Moines Register in excoriating Vander Plaats, Iowa Family Leader

Read the entire editorial in the Sioux City Journal here.
...Regardless of their views about gay marriage, Iowans should understand: The independent foundation on which a strong court system is based is at risk of being weakened in our state. The kinds of organized campaigns we have witnessed in 2010 and again this year to drive out judges as political retaliation for a ruling establishes an unsettling precedent for a future in which the infusion of political ideology routinely will force Iowa judges to raise money and wage political campaigns to stay on the bench. These questions arise: Will judges begin to consider the political ramifications of rulings? Will judges become beholden to special interests and their cash?
     Once you open the door to politics, it's hard to close it. Today, Vander Plaats is unhappy about an "activist" court decision; tomorrow, the leader of some left-leaning political organization may be upset about what he or she perceives as an "activist" ruling and seek payback - and the cycle will continue.
     We subscribe to the narrow view of retention votes. Judges should be removed from the bench only for reasons of malfeasance or gross incompetence, not for political retribution. Removing Ternus, Baker and Streit didn't overturn the controversial 2009 court decision and removing Wiggins won't either. Defeating them is meant to punish them and warn others.
     Those Iowans who wish to make gay marriage illegal would be better-advised to focus their energy on electing more state legislators who agree with them this fall in anticipation of pushing a constitutional amendment through the General Assembly.
     According to Vander Plaats, he's working to restore integrity to our court system. In our view, he's doing the opposite - sucking integrity out of it.
     By voting to retain Wiggins, Iowans will reject this political power play and send a message of opposition to the short-sighted, misguided injection of politics into our state's judicial system. We are hopeful of just such an outcome. (Via OneIowa.org)

Related: In his story about the dueling bus tours, Ron Marasco of WOI-DT chronicled what may well be the dumbest statement by an Iowan to find its way into print yesterday:
"Judge Wiggins legislated from the bench when he joined the Varnum decision," said Pella resident Lyle Horman.  "But the other reason is that according to the lawyers who participated in the Iowa Bar Association survey, more than 36% of them felt that Judge Wiggins should not be retained."
Hmmm, let's do the math here, Mr. Horman. If 36% of the Iowa Bar doesn't think Wiggins should be retained, then 64% do. May we remind you, Mr. Horman, that if your cheerleader, Bob Vander Plaats, had achieved an approval rating that high among the electorate, he would have been elected instead of losing when he ran for governor in 2002. And in 2006 when he quit to join his primary challenger on a lower rung on the ticket — and lost. And in 2010 when he ran for governor again — and lost.

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