Iowans Vote for Fair Courts

November 12, 2020

Iowans Vote Resoundingly for Fair Courts

1,150,041 and $0.

A lot will be said in the coming days, weeks, and months about last week’s election here in Iowa and across the nation, but we’d like to call your attention to two milestones:

  • The first – 1,150,041 – is the average number of votes cast in retention elections for justices now seated on Iowa’s Supreme Court. Votes were also cast for justices on the Court of Appeals and district courts.
  • The second – $0 – was the amount spent on negative attack ads or smear campaigns by special interests targeting judges on Iowa ballots this year.

This is welcome news for fair courts in Iowa.

The significant 2020 retention vote demonstrates that Iowans take their constitutional role seriously in assessing the performance of Iowa’s judges. Meanwhile, our merit-based nomination system helped insulate our courts from the millions we saw spent by partisan interests on judicial elections and nominations in other states. Or the bitter politicization we witnessed during the nomination battle over Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That’s not to say that everyone who voted this year in our retention elections agreed with all the rulings made by the judges on the ballot, and many may have voted accordingly. Nor does it mean that we won’t see the return of attack campaigns on Iowa judges in the future as we did in 2010 when outside extremist groups – aligned with Bob Vander Plaats – pumped nearly $1 million into a smear campaign to defeat the retention of three highly respected Iowa Supreme Court Justices.

What it does mean is that this year, in what perhaps was one of the most contentious and expensive general elections on record for our nation, money was NOT a factor in Iowa’s judicial races. And that, friends, is welcome news.

The Justice Not Politics Team