Iowa’s courts stand strong despite continued attacks

Dear Friends:

Iowa’s merit selection and retention process has protected our courts from the corrosive influence of politics and campaign money for nearly 60 years, safeguarding its fairness and impartiality. The result – Iowa courts have a long history of upholding the rights of average citizens because judges are free to rule fairly and consistently based upon the law and constitution, not politics.

Not that the system itself has emerged unscathed from ongoing attacks by those who want to trade judicial independence for political power. What started in 2010, with the unprecedented retention vote challenge against three Iowa Supreme Court Justices,  continues to this day as exemplified most recently by the partisan changes to the state nominating commission in 2019 by Governor Reynolds and Republican lawmakers.

That’s the bad news, but here’s the good news

Iowa’s nationally-admired judicial safeguards still stand strong because of your hard work and the many battles we’ve won together. Quick review:

  • 2011 – Iowans stop cold another attempt by politicians and out-of-state special interests to impeach well-respected, accomplished Iowa Supreme Court Justices.
  • 2012 – Despite vicious and baseless political attacks, Iowans vote to retain Iowa Supreme Court Justices (David Wiggins, Ed Mansfield, Tom Waterman, and Bruce Zager.)
  • 2016 – Iowa voters again retain well-qualified Iowa Supreme Court Justices (Mark Cady, Brent Appel, Daryl Hecht), affirming that Iowa judges are safe to follow the law and the constitution when deciding cases, rather than partisan political pressure.
  • 2019 – The Iowa fair courts community mobilizes to defeat the most damaging pieces of legislation that would have handed over complete control of judicial selection to the most partisan elected officials in the state.

So take heart, friends of fair courts. Even as some politicians and special interest groups continue to target our non-partisan and fair courts to influence the judicial process in Iowa, we’ve shown we can hold off these attacks in the past. And together we’re confident we will do so again in the future.

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The Justice Not Politics Team