Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum are in favor of axing three Iowa Supreme Court judges who ruled in favor of gay marriage.

The low-lying campaign to remove the judges has been underway since the court's April 2009 unanimous ruling that brought gay marriage to the Midwest, but a Friday story in the Washington Post has put the issue front and center.

The Post is reporting that former gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, a Republican, has rented office space and hired six staffers to man his Iowa for Freedom campaign that seeks to oust the three justices off the bench.

Vander Plaats lost the Republican gubernatorial nomination to former governor Terry Branstad, who is also opposed to gay marriage, but, unlike his rival, did not focus his bid exclusively on the issue of repealing gay marriage.

Voters will decide in November whether to keep Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit. The remaining four judges are not on the ballot this year.

Republicans considering a 2012 presidential bid have been weighing in on the issue.

“Iowans are unique in that they have the ability to send a very clear and simple message that the court's behavior is unacceptable by just voting 'no' on the three judges who are up for reappointment,” Gingrich said in an interview with WHO-AM. “If a majority of Iowans vote 'no,' that will send a signal to the whole country that there is a citizens revolt under way.”

“We're going to have to fundamentally revisit how we deal with judges because the judicial branch has grown much too powerful and much too dictatorial and now regularly over reaches in telling us how to live,” he added.

Minnesota Governor Pawlenty expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with The Associated Press. He said the does not like judges “inserting their personal views to change” the definition of marriage and added that he was OK with the campaign to oust the judges.

In May, Pawlenty vetoed a bill that would have allowed gay couples to control the remains of a loved one. “I oppose efforts to treat domestic relationships as the equivalent of traditional marriage,” he said in opposing the bill.

At the Iowa State Fair this week, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a staunch social conservative, also backed the plan.

“People should decide issues, not courts,” he told the Des Moines Register. “This court attempted to impose its values on society.”

The Post notes that the effort to oust the judges “worries not only gay rights advocates but some legal experts who say it is wrong to punish judges for an unpopular decision.”

Gay marriage foes understand that they are at a disadvantage in the courtroom. At first they turned to state constitutions to cut off the gay marriage movement, effectively choking off the court's ability to rule in favor of gay and lesbian couples seeking to marry.

But that option appears to be dimming after a federal judge, Vaughn Walker, struck down California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, as unconstitutional. Even before the ruling, which is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, efforts in Iowa – and in the District of Columbia – to begin the process of voting on the issue have been thwarted this year, angering opponents who say they are being denied the right to vote on the issue.

Reacting to the California ruling, Gingrich renewed a call to place a gay marriage ban in the U.S. Constitution.

“Judge Walker's ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife,” Gingrich wrote on his website.

“Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy.”