Wiggins and six other justices unanimously ruled in 2009 that limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman was unconstitutional. Following the ruling, conservatives launched a campaign to oust all the justices, who face a retention vote in Iowa every eight years. Justices Marsha Ternus, David Baker and Michael Streit were voted out in 2010.
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker on Wednesday decried “unelected activist judges attempting to impose their personal views on the public,” and called for the campaign to continue this year.
“In 2010 Iowa voters chose to dismiss three activist judges who allowed their own politics to influence their obligation to uphold the Iowa Constitution,” he added. “These three were among a handful of judges who chose to disregard years of legal precedent on the status of marriage and how it was to be defined. Instead of allowing the people of Iowa to decide this issue at the polls, these judges instead chose to impose their will upon the state and re-write history without weighing the merits of our laws and values.”
Wiggins, who faces a retention vote in November, insisted that the ruling was correct.
“Our system is built on checks and balances between independent branches of government,” he said. “Two of the branches are designed to be political. It is unfortunate that Mr. Spiker apparently thinks that all three branches should be political. I have always viewed the role of the judiciary as limited, and I am proud of my work in writing opinions and helping resolve the issues that are brought before the court.”
A Des Moines Register poll from February found that only 38 percent of Iowans supported a state constitutional amendment to prohibit marriage, while 56 percent opposed such an amendment.
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky said the campaign against the justices showed the “dangers of politicizing the judicial branch.” She accused the campaign of being funded by out-of-state special interest groups, and vowed to “not sit quietly as they crusade to eliminate an independent judiciary.”
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