Iowa Chief Justice dies at 66


Huiling Wu/ Iowa State Daily

Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady speaks March 22, 2012, at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Ames.

Jake Webster

The author of the landmark ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa, Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady, died late Friday at the age of 66.

Cady died unexpectedly of a heart attack Friday night, his family said in a statement posted to the Iowa judicial branch’s website.

“Tonight, the state lost a great man, husband, father, grandfather and jurist,” the family said in the statement. “Chief Justice Mark Cady passed away unexpectedly this evening from a heart attack. Arrangements are pending.”

The executive director of One Iowa, Courtney Reyes, issued a statement noting Cady’s impact on the lives of LGBTQ people in the state.

“At One Iowa, we are saddened to hear of Chief Justice Cady’s death. Earlier this year, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of one of his most impactful decisions: Varnum v. Brien,” Reyes said in the statement. “His words in that decision have touched the lives of countless LGBTQ people not just in Iowa, but nationwide.”

Iowa political leaders across the partisan divide issued statements mourning the loss of the long-serving judge. Cady was first appointed a district judge in 1986.

“I was shocked and devastated to learn about Chief Justice Cady’s passing. This is a terrible loss for the state and for the courts,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller in a statement. “The chief justice was a dedicated public servant and a fair-minded jurist.”

The Democratic attorney general’s statement followed Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ statement offering sympathy to Cady’s family.

“I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of Chief Justice Mark Cady,” Reynolds said. “He devoted his entire professional career to serving the people of Iowa. He loved the law, the judiciary and the state we call home. He leaves behind a legacy of service and dedication that we should never forget. My prayers are with Becky, the rest of his family, and his colleagues on the Supreme Court and throughout the judicial branch during this difficult time.”

Reynold’s statement was joined by one from the state’s lieutenant governor, Adam Gregg.

“I am stunned and saddened by the loss of Chief Justice Cady,” Gregg said in a statement. “As he did for so many law students and young lawyers, he showed me kindness and support throughout my career. I am thankful for his service, and for the role he played in my life. He will be missed.”

A public “celebration of life” event will be hosted 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Knapp Center at Drake University to honor Cady and his contributions to the judiciary in Iowa.