When social conservatives seeking to oust a fourth Iowa Supreme Court justice launched their bus tour from Des Moines on Monday, they met immediate resistance. Defenders pushing for Justice David Wiggins’ retention staged their own rally and kicked off their own bus tour.
The dueling events and rival bus tours signaled a more vigorously contested election than in 2010 when the conservative groups swept three justices off the bench in retaliation for a unanimous court ruling that permitted same-sex couples to marry.
Conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, a leader of the 2010 effort, warned on Monday that keeping the justices on the court could put other rights at risk, according to an Associated Press article.
“If they’ll redefine the institution of marriage, they won’t even blink an eye when they take away your private property, when they take away your guns, when they tell you how to educate your children, when they take away your religious liberty or when they take away your freedom of the press,” he said. Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum joined Vander Plaats.
Afterward, speakers at a counter-rally contended that the justices who issued the 2009 marriage ruling were doing their job and upholding their oath to defend the Constitution.
“God bless Bob Vander Plaats, Mr. Santorum and others, but I’m afraid they’re misinformed,” said Guy Cook, president-elect of the Iowa State Bar Association, according to a Des Moines Register article. “We don’t want to return to the days where politics have been injected into our system, and remove the fair and impartial courts that we have, well-respected throughout this country.”
Christine Branstad, an attorney and niece of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, participated in the rally supporting Justice Wiggins’ retention.
“The campaign against Iowa’s judiciary by Bob Vander Plaats is funded by out-of-state money, the speakers are from out of state, and the buses are from out of state,” she said. “It is simply an exercise in the use of PAC money and special interest money and out of state interests.”