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
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
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
“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
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
Reacting to the California ruling,
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.”