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November 2nd, 2010

Iowa Voters Remove Three Supreme Court Justices in Retention Vote

In what can only be described as a historically unprecedented event, Iowans have voted not to retain all three of the Iowa Supreme Court justices.  In other words, the three Supreme Court justices up for retention, including Marsha Ternus, David Baker, and Michael Streit, are all out of a job.

One of the main reasons for this outcome is a great unrest and dissatisfaction with the Court following the April 3, 2009, decision allowing for gay marriage in Iowa.  In the weeks immediately following this decision, Democrat leaders in the state legislature refused to allow their members to even vote on a proposed constitutional amendment.  With the amendment process effectively stalled, this retention election is the first opportunity Iowa voters have had to speak out on this decision, and they spoke loudly.

It should be remembered, however, that many voters had many other reasons for voting no on the judges.  Some are still angry over the decision that set confessed killer Rodney Heemstra free after just a few years in prison by turning the felony murder doctrine on its ear.  Some are upset about administrative issues that the Court oversees that have forced court closures across the state.  Others look at decisions, like those in the taxation of gaming cases in which the court contradicted itself in a second opinion on the same subject, and see the judges shaping their rationale to fit a certain desired outcome.  There is no doubt, however, that marriage is the biggest factor playing in to this outcome.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the state legislature this year.  The people of Iowa have now demonstrated that they are willing to start kicking people to the curb over the issue of marriage.  Perhaps that fact will be enough to motivate complacent legislators to finally get on board with a marriage amendment, and maybe even go around Mike Gronstal to do so.

Photo by Dave Davidson

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About the Author

Craig Robinson

Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country.

Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses.

A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states.

Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site,

Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing.

Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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