Iowa votes to retain Justice David Wiggins

Tedi Mathis

After months of campaigning from The Family Leader, the people of Iowa voted to retain Justice David Wiggins. Wiggins is the fourth Iowa Supreme Court judge to face a retention vote out of the original seven judges from the controversial Varnum v. Brien case of 2009, which legalized same-sex marriage.

The retention of Wiggins was called at about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, with the vote coming in at 55 percent voting “yes” to retain the justice and 45 voting “no.”

Greg Baker, political director of the Family Leader and executive director of Iowans for Freedom, said they have not officially discussed future plans, though they will continue to fight against “activist judges.”

“We are definitely not going to stop here,” Baker said. The Family Leader plans to continue its efforts with the 2016 elections, where the final three judges from Varnum v. Brien will be up for retention.

Before the results came in, Baker said: “Regardless of his retention, a lot of Iowans have clearly shown a lack of confidence in the Supreme Court.”

Warren Blumenfeld, associate professor of cirriculum and instruction at Iowa State, took another stance on the results. Blumenfeld said not retaining Wiggins would have “sent a message to the entire nation that civil rights are up for a vote.”

Blumenfeld does not support the Family Leader’s “No Wiggins” efforts and said their actions do not agree with their name.

“The Family Leader is a misnomer because heads of households are also same-sex couples,” Blumenfeld said. “We are families too. They are leading only a specific type of family.”

Blumenfeld also blames the Family Leader’s actions on the Republican Party. “The right wing will term a judge as an activist when the judge votes against the right wing,” Blumenfeld said.

This issue with judicial retention, starting with the judges in 2010, brings to light a new wave of mistrust in Iowans of the judicial branch, and this is something that concerns The Family Leader.

Baker said: “The court needs to readdress what they are going to do to win Iowa’s confidence back.”  With Wiggins’ retention, may indicate a change in the mistrust of the courts.

Another question raised is the involvement of politics in the judicial branch. These campaigns could hinder decision-making for judges, encouraging them to vote for what is popular, not necessarily what is right.

“I still hope that judiciary of the state of Iowa is eventually taken out of political process,” said Blumenfeld. He stressed that judges on the state level should be voted in for life, similar to Supreme Court judges at the federal level.