Republican gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts sent out a press release last night saying that he would vote to remove three Supreme Court Justices. Below is the full press release.
Roberts to vote “No” on retaining three Iowa Supreme Court Justices
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts has announced that he will vote to remove three members of the Iowa Supreme Court in their retention election next November. Roberts has consistently criticized the Iowa Supreme Court since the beginning of his exploratory campaign for governor in July, and he says he will continue to encourage those he meets in the coming months to vote in next year’s retention election when it appears as part of the general election ballot.
“I want to be clear with Iowans in general and republicans in particular that when I go to the polls next November as a citizen, I will be voting to remove Chief Justice Ternus, Justice Streit, and Justice Baker,” said Roberts, a five-term State Representative from Carroll. “Moreover, as I am campaigning during the coming months, I will be making sure Iowans know that they have the right to vote in the retention election next year.”
Roberts notes that the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision in Varnum v. Brien – in which the court struck down the state’s law restricting marriage to one man and one woman – is one of the primary reasons why he opposes retaining the justices who are up for retention next year.
“The Iowa Supreme Court is unanimously opposed to the traditional definition of marriage while an overwhelmingly majority of Iowans want to vote on the issue. Clearly, something has to give, and I am siding with the people of Iowa on how marriage is defined in this state,” said Roberts, an Assistant Minority Leader in the Iowa House of Representatives.
Varnum is not the only reason why Roberts opposes retaining the three members of the Iowa Supreme Court, however. Roberts notes that in the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2002 decision of Racing Association of Central Iowa v. Fitzgerald, the court struck down a gambling tax law that had been passed by the legislature. The United States Supreme Court overturned the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision and unanimously voted to uphold the law in 2003, but when the case returned to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2004, it rejected the United State Supreme Court’s decision and struck down the law for a second time. Roberts says that Varnum and Racing Association of Central Iowa are unacceptable forms of judicial activism.
“We need to send a message to the Iowa Supreme Court that they are accountable to the people of Iowa,” said Roberts, who has made restoring the role of the people in state government a centerpiece of his campaign. “The problem with judicial activism is that it thwarts the will of the legislature and of the people of Iowa. Next November, it is our duty as voters to let these justices know what we think of their judicial activism.”
As a candidate for governor, Roberts is comfortable both with publicly indicating how he will vote in next year’s retention election and with actively encouraging Iowans to exercise their right to vote in the election. Roberts points out that the very purpose of a retention election is to retain or remove justices based upon their performance. Racing Association of Central Iowa and Varnum are examples of extreme judicial activism, which is grossly deficient performance according to Roberts.
“Retention elections give the people of Iowa a voice in who will be members of their state supreme court. A retention election is democracy’s imprint on a branch of government that is otherwise insulated from public opinion,” said Roberts. “Next November, Iowans will have a chance to exercise their right to shape the Iowa Supreme Court. I will be voting not to retain the three members of the Iowa Supreme Court who will be up for retention, and I encourage others to exercise their right to vote on retention, too.”
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