Iowans Made a Mistake By Voting ‘No’

by Bryan Ingram

On Nov. 3, an uninformed Iowa public exiled three Supreme Court Justices. The decision was made following a rigorous campaign from special interest groups that left behind a destructive path of skewed facts, propaganda and a vulnerable supreme court.

Although the issue of retaining a judge is simple and often overlooked on the ballot, this term’s judicial retention vote was muddied by anti-gay marriage – I’m sorry let me rephrase – anti “activist judge” campaigner and Sioux City businessman, Bob Vander Plaats.

What frustrates me most about the judicial retention vote is not that the majority of Iowa is against a basic civil right – which should have been irrelevant in the retention vote – rather, the majority of Iowans made a decision based on a sneaky marketing campaign set forth by right-winged and religious activists like Vander Plaats.

“If a supreme court would have stayed in their constitutional boundaries, this night wouldn’t have to happen. But when they went outside their constitutional boundaries and they made law from the bench … all of our freedoms came up for grabs,” said Vander Plaats during a post-election victory speech.

But what Vander Plaats’ and his follower’s circular reasoning never address is how the judges “made law from the bench.” In fact, voiding a law that was unanimously decided as un-constitutional by the Iowa Supreme Court was far from making law.

The judicial branch of our government is supposed to be the only branch that is un-biased and free from political control. The vote on Nov. 3, however, proved otherwise. Out of all the parties involved in this mess: activists, Iowa voters, and the judges, the only ones acting outside of the political arena were the judges. Yet, Iowa decided it was time for them to go.

According to the Des Moines Register, Vander Plaats raised over $650,000 for his anti-gay smear campaign. This is in stark contrast to the Iowa Supreme Court judges who raised zero dollar. The reason the Supreme Court judges did not campaign for their seats is because to do so would unnecessarily introduce politics into the courts, which the judges attempted to avoid. But never underestimate the ignorance of the public.

By allowing a political agenda to infiltrate Iowa’s court system, the state of Iowa jeopardized whether or not a judge’s decision will be affected, at least indirectly, by politics. After all, the message Iowa is sending to future judges is, “make a controversial yet just decision that we don’t like and we’ll take you down, even if you were upholding the constitution of Iowa,” (which makes me wonder what other civil rights findings would have led to Justice lynching’s).

But what is more important, perhaps, is why did the public let this injustice happen? Was it that easy for a third-party to campaign and un-justly influence the public? Iowans need to think about the implications of their vote before they vote and make an informed decision so that they are casting the vote—not the agenda of a third-party.