Why It’s Important

Iowa’s merit selection and retention process keeps politics and campaign money out of our courts, safeguarding its fairness and impartiality. Iowa courts have a long history of protecting average citizens, and the retention of Iowa judges should be based on their ability to uphold the law fairly and consistently – not on the outcome of a single decision.

In the 2010 Election, three Iowa Supreme Court Justices faced an unprecedented retention vote challenge and unfortunately, were not retained. With close to $1 million in out of state funding from extremist groups, Bob Vander Plaats and his organization Iowa for Freedom successfully injected fear tactics into the judicial retention election and skewed the public perception of the role of the judiciary.

Unfortunately, the fight for the judiciary is not over. Public statements from Bob Vander Plaats, potential Presidential candidates and state legislators on the right signal an ongoing fight to influence the judicial process in Iowa, despite recent poll numbers showing Iowans are against further attacks on our judiciary.

Since the 2010 election:

Five State Representatives filed articles of impeachment against the four sitting Supreme Court Justices. Although impeachment is not expected to move forward this session, the legislators have vowed to push for impeachment next year.

Vander Plaats has repeatedly called for the remaining Justices to resign and condemned the newly elected Justices
Potential Republican presidential candidates have voiced their support for the result of the judicial retention vote and impeachment proceedings and Newt Gingrich admitted to funneling $150,000 to the anti-retention effort.

And due to the organization’s success of the retention vote fight in 2010, we expect there to be a fight to retain Justice David Wiggins in 2012. Governor Terry Branstad even predicted a retention battle for Justice Wiggins.

Additional Resources