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Gov. Reynolds should pick a justice like Mark Cady

She has praised the abilities of the Fort Dodge jurist who died last month

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady, of Fort Dodge, held the respect of his peers, the lawyers who argued before him and Republican and Democratic politicians for being a jurist of intellect, moderation, inclusiveness and faithfulness to the law. Nowhere was this more evident in the opinion he wrote for the court’s majority that held homosexuals cannot be discriminated against as a class. That 2009 decision allowed gay marriage in Iowa.

The opinion was faithful to the state and federal constitutions, stood up for minority rights and was a courageous ruling in that it inveighed against the politics of the moment. As a result, three justices lost their retention elections in 2010 when homophobic interests posing as Christians waged a campaign against them.

It was a courageous decision, but there really was no other answer if you believe discrimination is unconstitutional.

Cady was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad. He was praised by Justice Edward Mansfield, a conservative, for helping him get to the court and for helping him adjust to the high court. Gov. Kim Reynolds praised Cady following his surprising death on Nov. 15 at age 66.

”He loved the law, the judiciary and the state we call home,” Reynolds said. ”He leaves behind a legacy of service and dedication that we should never forget.”

That should be the standard Reynolds uses to appoint a successor: someone who loves the law and applies it without fear or favor to anyone or any political interest. Someone who is moderate and takes in all points of view in a complicated legal debate.

The Iowa Supreme Court should be above politics. But too often the courts are viewed as a vehicle to advance a political agenda rather then sorting out legal differences and arriving at the truth.

She should look for someone with Cady’s humility and resolve to serve the people – all the people – by applying the law blind to political or economic interests. Cady was not a liberal or a conservative. He was a judge.

The chief justice’s legacy should be the governor’s guide. She can demonstrate that her fealty is to the law like Mark Cady’s was, and that she is a governor more interested in serving the Iowa Constitution than any party or cause – unless the cause is blind justice.

-­Storm Lake Times