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Bipartisan group forms to defend Iowa judges
A bipartisan, nonprofit group calling itself Iowans for Fair and Impartial Courts has formed to defend three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who are up for a retention vote on the Nov. 2 ballot. The group formed as a direct result of efforts by former GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats to organize a campaign to oust the judges due to their ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.
The groups leaders include former Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan, former Republican National Committee member Steve Roberts, and Bob Rafferty, who served as former Gov. Terry Branstad‘s chief of staff. Branstad is the Republican nominee for governor this fall and has said he will not personally push for voters to oust the judges.
Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit are up for retention this year. Only four judges have been voted out since 1962, when the state replaced the practice of electing judges by popular vote with the “Missouri Plan,” or the merit-based system of retention and judicial nominating commissions.
On Wednesday, Vander Plaats announced the name of his organization, Iowa for Freedom. The decision about the structure of the group — whether it will be a nonprofit, political action committee , etc. — has not yet been made. He does expect for the group to receive support from all over the country. The anti-gay group American Family Association has already paid to set up a website for the campaign.