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As others see it: Removal of judges sets ugly precedent

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opinion Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

Rebuffed in his attempt to become governor of Iowa and overturn through executive order the Iowa Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage in the state, Bob Vander Plaats set his sights on leading the effort to remove three court justices who faced retention votes. Their defeat became his obsession.

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Today, Vander Plaats can claim victory. Marsha Ternus, Michael Streit and David Baker became the first Supreme Court justices in Iowa history to lose retention.

Pardon us if we don't join him in his celebration.

This question reasonably can be asked of Vander Plaats and other Iowans who followed his lead and voted against these three qualified, competent jurists: What exactly did you accomplish?

The defeat of the justices did not overturn the controversial 2009 court decision. Gay marriage remains legal in our state.

... The retention vote should have been about something bigger than a single court decision. It should have been about protecting independence and integrity in our judicial system by keeping politics and all its inherent negative baggage out of our courtrooms.

Instead, it became a quest for political retaliation, pure and simple.

The campaign to get rid of three judges stained our respected and admired court system by setting an ugly precedent for the future. We fear the long-term negative impact.

Vander Plaats may feel like a winner today. But Iowa is a loser.

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