Gavel Grab

Iowa Governor: Judicial Ouster ‘Up to the Voters’ to Decide

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, neither endorsed nor rejected a call by the state’s Republican Party chairman for the ouster of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins in a retention (up-or-down) election this fall.

“Well, he didn’t consult with me and I guess my feeling is he has the right as every citizen has the right to express their opinion on these issues,” Branstad (in photo) said, according to a Des Moines Register article. He was referring referring to an announcement by Republican leader A.J. Spiker (see Gavel Grab). “It is a voter decision and it should be up to the voters to decide.”

In 2010, voters swept three other Iowa Supreme Court justices off the bench in a historic retention election.  In 2009, Justice Wiggins joined them and other justices in a unanimous opinion that under the Iowa Constitution, same-sex couples had the same right to marry as different-sex couples.

An opinion column in the Des Moines Register by Rekha Basu was sharply critical of the ouster call.

“The Iowa Republican Party is demanding the state’s judiciary square its ruling with a GOP platform plank, or be punished,” Basu wrote.

“[T]argeting a judge because his ruling didn’t match its positions defies Iowa’s proud tradition of selecting judges on a non-partisan basis. It opens the door for every court ruling, and judge, to be subject to political litmus tests.”

Meanwhile U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has distanced himself from the ouster campaign, another Des Moines Register article reported.

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