Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra
Day O'Connor will help defeat a movement to oust three Iowa judges
who ruled in favor of gay marriage, the AP reported.
O'Connor, who opposes judicial
elections, will speak on Wednesday about keeping courts free of
politics. She'll be joined on the panel by Barry Griswell, former
head of Principal Financial Group, Jan Laue, of the Iowa Federation
of Labor, and Allan Vestal, dean of Drake University's school of law.
The low-lying campaign to remove the
judges has been underway since the court's unanimous April 2009
ruling that brought gay marriage to the Midwest. But the effort has
gained traction in the weeks since former gubernatorial candidate Bob
Vander Plaats announced plans to spearhead the movement. The Sioux
City businessman has rented office space and hired six staffers to
man his Iowa for Freedom campaign.
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
Vander Plaats, a staunch opponent of
gay marriage, says the judges should be removed because they
overstepped their authority.
“They voided the law and it should
have gone back to the legislature,” he said Sunday on KCCI's
Newsmakers. “We saw the Supreme Court go outside its
jurisdiction. The legislature is responsible for creating all laws.
[Iowa for Freedom] truly believes the [court] usurped the will of the
“All power is inherent in the people,
not the courts,” he added. “This is a great civics lesson on who
makes law, executes law and amends the constitution.”
Former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark
McCormick told Newsmakers host Kevin Cooney and Vander Plaats
that the appropriate means of altering the decision is to amend the
Iowa Constitution and that removing the judges will not reverse the
“You're presupposing without any
basis in fact or in law that this court did not have jurisdiction to
apply the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. But it
does, and that's part of the judicial oath here,” McCormick said.
On the program, Vander Plaats refused
to answer questions about who's funding his group. But social
conservative groups the Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC), which
endorsed Vander Plaats' gubernatorial campaign, and the anti-gay
American Family Association (AFA) have contributed “several hundred
thousand dollars,” Chuck Hurley, the IFPC's director said.
Three Republican 2012 presidential
hopefuls have already endorsed the campaign.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former
House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick
Santorum are in favor of axing the judges for deciding in favor of