Message Loud and Clear: Forget Politics

by Angela Niesz

A fire burned Wednesday evening as a debate became heated over whether to retain three judges for their approval of same-sex marriage.

The Judicial Retention Forum was held at Simpson College’s West Des Moines campus.

Bob Vander Plaats, former Republican group editorial nominee, and Nathan Tucker, Davenport attorney and constitutional scholar, were against retaining the judges while Mark McCormickand and Robert Allbee, both former associate justices of the Iowa Supreme Court, were in favor of it.

Allbee made an opening statement that the opposing side could agree with.

“This should really not be about politics,” Albee said. “My concern is the preservation of fair and impartial courts.”

Vander Plaats concurred with Allbee’s statement about politics.

The discussion didn’t stay agreeable for long as Vander Plaats and McCormick were quick to defend their views.

Vander Plaats explained why he believes the question of retention is the most important on the November ballet.

“Who cares who the governor is? Because the court will just decide for us,” Vander Plaats said. “If that happens, every freedom you will have is up for grabs, and that is a slippery slope.”

McCormick disagreed with Vander Plaats and thought the judges did what was necessary.

“The Supreme Court of Iowa, in deciding the case, acted not only courageously but in the highest tradition of their constitutional responsibility,” McCormick said.

Vander Plaats and McCormick had a verbal tug-of-war over whether the law the judges approved was constitutional.

“This is, at its root, a civil rights decision,” McCormick said.

Vander Plaats’ beliefs differed and thought that the judges upheld too much power in the decision.

“If we start allowing a court to make law, to execute law, and to amend the constitution, you will get tyranny not liberty,” Vander Plaats said.

Tucker leaned back in his chair between McCormick and observed for most of the debate.