Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Post Election Rant || UPDATE: I Smell a Newt

UPDATE: Newt Gingrich was involved, via his nonprofit organization Renewing American Leadership (ReAL), in ousting Iowa's three Supreme Court Justices last year. Perhaps as a penance for his cheating heart or perhaps to buy the support of Iowa evangelical leader, Bob Vander Plaats, either way...I'm not a fan. From National Journal:
ReAL poured $150,000 into the successful campaign by Iowa social conservatives in 2010 to oust three Iowa Supreme Court judges, who were targeted after the high court struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage.
It's finally here...November 3rd. The midterm elections are over and as predicted, republicans took back the House of Representatives. The Senate majority stays with the democrats thanks, in part, to "true conservatives" and their crappy candidates. I hope Harry Reid and his pet are very happy together.

In Iowa, we vote yes or no on retaining our state's judges. The process was implemented in 1962. This year, three Supreme Court judges were on the ballot and three Supreme Court judges were booted. In case you are wondering, this has never happened before.

Why did this happen? On April 3, 2009 the Iowa Supremes unanimously (7-0) decided to uphold a District Court ruling (Varnum v. Brien); the case challenged the state's ban on same-sex marriage under the Iowa Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. Iowa's high court concluded:

"We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification. There is no material fact, genuinely in dispute, that can affect this determination."

A penny for my thoughts? Okay. First of all, I think that the government should get the hell out of the marriage business. With 50% divorce rates, they're not very good at it. In Iowa a marriage license costs $30, it's not like they're making a killing on fees. I got married at the Justice of the Peace (on a Thursday, it was free). But since the Iowa government is all up in your marriage business, I agree with the court's decision. No, I'm not a lawyer. But, I am a pretty good judge. The same-sex marriage ban was discriminatory.

Let the voters decide!!! Normally this is a super awesome idea but it didn't happen, same-sex marriage has never been on the ballot in Iowa. The state legislature decided to ban it after Clinton signed DOMA. While we're on the subject of our fun-loving former President, he was responsible for DADT as well. Clearly, he hates the gheys. I keed, I keed.

What's Dutch for disgruntled, defeated, gubernatorial candidate? Vander Plaats. Bob Vander Plaats after being stomped by former Governor Terry Branstad in the primary toyed around with a write-in candidacy. He must have had a hard time shaking the political bug or perhaps he's just an angry man who likes being angry. Because he channeled that anger and energy towards the Iowa Supremes, in a big way. Vander Plaats' Iowa for Freedom (heh) with the help of Rep. King, Rick "I brought my dead baby home to meet his siblings" Santorum, the Family Research Council Action and the National Organization for Marriage ran a successful campaign to oust the "activist judges" complete with TV ads and a 45 county bus tour!

Wow, this is long. Hey look, a puppy.

I don't get it. Aren't conservatives supposed to be pro-marriage and pro-family? If you hate gay people then say just that. Don't hide behind marriage amendment chatter while slinging around mistruths like "activist judges".

Former Iowa Supreme Court Justice, Linda Neuman said that she saw none of the "judicial activism" in the high court's decision. Former United States Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor even weighed in on the controversy while at an event in Iowa. O'Connor, who was introduced by Chief Justice Ternus, said "the judges should not be subject to retaliation".

Former Iowa Governor Robert Ray (R) said he hoped voters could “look past the hype on individual cases”. Gov. Ray made these comments at the Iowa State Bar Association's 2010 Judicial Plebiscite release. Each year the state Bar's members are asked to rate Iowa's judges, 3,429 attorneys participated. How did these "activist judges" fare? Justice Michael Streit (rhymes with "right") 83.7%, Justice David Baker (rhymes with "maker") 82.8% and bringing up the rear (Iowa's first female) Chief Justice Marsha Ternus (rhymes with nothing) received a 72% rating for retention.

When asked about these ratings, Iowa for Freedom (heh) campaign manager, Chuck Laudner, noted that none of the judges received a 100%. Then he said "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" and pooped in his pants (well maybe...I wasn't there).

What happens next? Gov. Chet Culver (D) who was defeated by Former Governor Branstad yesterday could appoint new justices before the Former Governor/Governor-Elect is (re)sworn in. Two of the three, Ternus and Streit, were appointed by Former Governor Branstad. I'm confused are you? Anyway, Vander Plaats was pretty excited, I think he said "legislate from the bench" five thousand times in his "victory speech". Also, he's not very smart and he may or may not eat his boogers.

I'll leave you (finally) with this. Civil Rights have come a long way in this country but we have some work to do. The US Supreme Court had to rule on the legality of interracial marriage in this country in 1967. I wonder what would have happened if that had been left to the voters to decide. But, I know...that's different, or something.

*Streit was appointed by Branstad to the district court bench, Culver promoted him to Iowa's high court in 2001

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