There are several types of threats that can affect judicial independence. But in the final analysis, the driving force is fear. In 2010, three justices were defeated in a highly contentious retention election in Iowa. The defeated justices were recognized for their courage in doing what they thought was right: the State of Iowa’s constitution gave gay people a right to marry.
Hopefully this too will pass. From Stephen Gruber-Miller and the Des Moines Register:
A conservative Iowa group that successfully pushed to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices in 2010 over a decision legalizing same-sex marriage is hinting it could do it again — this time over abortion.
Drew Zahn, director of communications for The Family Leader, said although the group has no plans in place right now to target specific justices, “we’re not ruling that out” in the future. No state supreme court justices are on the ballot this year but three will be in 2020.
An email to supporters sent Friday by Bob Vander Plaats, The Family Leader’s president and CEO, criticized “notorious opinions” issued by the state Supreme Court. That includes a 5-2 decision in June that found women in Iowa have a fundamental right to an abortion under the Iowa Constitution.
“We have no plans in place right now to target any specific judges, but we absolutely object to the philosophy of evolving standards for evaluating our constitution,” Zahn said, referring to the abortion decision, which struck down a portion of a law requiring a 72-hour waiting period to get an abortion.
Vander Plaats, in the email, advised supporters on how to decide whether or not to retain the Iowa judges on the ballot this November and argued that Iowa’s system for selecting judges should change.
“We’re hoping that there won’t be another battle over Supreme Court justices, but if there is, the bar association will be there to support the court, I can tell you that,” said Tom Levis, president of the Iowa State Bar Association.
Justices Susan Christensen, Edward Mansfield, Thomas Waterman and David Wiggins will face a retention election in 2020, while the remaining three justices will be on the ballot in 2024.
Mansfield and Waterman dissented from the decision that found the Iowa Constitution protects the right to an abortion, while Wiggins was in the majority. Christensen was appointed to the court this year by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, after the court ruled in the abortion case.