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Retention of Iowa Supreme Court Justice Wiggins is shadowed by politics

Supporters say don’t fault court decision

September 27, 2012
By BILL SHEA, , Messenger News

Voters should keep embattled Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins and other jurists on the bench this year to ensure that the courts remain impartial, state bar association representatives told a Fort Dodge audience Wednesday.

"Vote yes for Iowa judges and our courts to guarantee liberty and justice for all," said Dan Moore, a Sioux City attorney who is a past president of the Iowa State Bar Association.

"The voice of reason will rise above all of this noise and be heard - that all Iowans have equal protection under our state's Constitution,'' he added.

Article Photos

-Messenger photos by Hans Madsen
Ed O’Leary, left, of Fort Dodge, holds a sign in support of the retention of Iowa Supreme Court justice David Wiggins Wednesday afternoon during a rally on City Square in downtown Fort Dodge.

Speaking to about 30 people on the City Square, Moore also addressed the 2009 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same sex marriage and made Wiggins the target of a campaign to remove him from office during the retention vote that is part of the November general election.

"The court did not redefine marriage nor impose same sex marriage on anyone," he said. "The truth of the matter is, it merely imposed the constitutional clause of equal protection."

Organizers of the campaign to oust Wiggins, he said, are "tricking the voters into undermining the separation of powers."

Moore was repeatedly interrupted by applause.

The bar association rally in favor of retaining the Supreme Court justice began shortly after a gathering of those opposed to Wiggins wrapped up on the north side of the square. Five city police officers and a state trooper were present.

Eddie Simpson, of Boxholm, attended both rallies holding a sign that urged people to vote yes on retaining Wiggins.

Following the rallies, he said he was concerned that voting to oust Wiggins would set a bad precedent.

"Where's that going to end?" Simpson asked. "There's got to be a stop to some of this."

"We're a great state," he added. "We made our decisions before. Iowans are right at the top of everyone."

Shortly after Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal finished speaking at the rally of those seeking to oust Wiggins, those in favor of retaining him made it clear that their effort is a homegrown one.

Fort Dodge attorney Jerry Schnurr launched the event by declaring that it would feature "Iowa speakers to talk about Iowa courts."

Moore added, "We are here today to speak Iowan to Iowan and to urge voters to flip their ballots over and vote yes for Iowa judges and protect justice in Iowa."

According to Schnurr, the anti-Wiggins effort is "the injection of politics into our fair and impartial courts."

"Judges need to be independent and need to make decisions regardless of how they might be viewed politically," he added.

Moore, the keynote speaker at the rally, worked to systematically address the positions of those who want to vote Wiggins off the bench. He started with the notion that legalizing same sex marriage will eventually put all rights and liberties at risk.

"The truth of the matter is the Iowa Supreme Court applied the Constitution to protect the freedoms and liberties of our citizens," he said.

"The truth of the matter is the Iowa Supreme Court justices, including Justice David Wiggins, followed their sworn oath," he added. "They applied the equal protection clause of the Constitution. They did what the separation of powers called for and they applied the Constitution unanimously."

Moore also dismissed the idea that the justices amended the Constitution by legalizing same-sex marriage.

"The court and Justice Wiggins did not amend the Constitution from the bench," he said. "The truth of the matter is they applied the Constitution. The Constitution remains the same."

Moore also attacked the claim that the justices who legalized same-sex marriage were "activists."

He said the justices didn't write the law banning same-sex marriage and didn't file the lawsuit challenging that law. He said the justices merely applied the Constitution to that case when it was appealed to them.

Tossing Wiggins out of office won't change the law legalizing same sex-marriage, according to Moore. He said removing justices and judges from office "will only weaken our courts and deny individual freedoms and liberty."



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