It’s OK to Say “No” to Activist Judges
October 24, 2012
The Globe Gazette is out with an editorial admonishing Iowans not to oust a fourth state Supreme Court judge over the court’s ruling requiring Iowa to perform same-sex marriages. The main thrust of the paper’s argument is this:
“Whether you are in favor of legal same-sex marriage or not (we are in favor), voting out justices based on the popularity of their decisions rather than their competence in office introduces a troubling level of politics and potential coercion into the state’s judicial system that up to now had been a model of fairness for the rest of the nation.”
But the decisive issue here isn’t the “popularity” of the decision; it’s whether Iowans believe the justices exceeded their legitimate authority by usurping legislation and creating an entirely new definition of marriage that overturns thousands of years of settled opinion. The question of whether this represents good or bad social policy rests with the people, not the Law Lords. The reason Iowa has retention elections is to keep judges accountable to the people they serve, not as a means to root out judicial corruption or incompetence, which can easily be handled by existing oversight and disciplinary measures.
When Iowans go to the polls on November 6th, they can oust Justice Wiggins with a clear conscience and a firm conviction that they are appropriately exercising their democratic rights.