A former Iowa Supreme Court justice who once ran for governor says a campaign to unseat three Iowa Supreme Court Justices is politicizing the judicial branch of government.
Mark McCormick, a Des Moines attorney, ran for governor in 1998 as a Democrat. McCormick served on the Iowa Supreme Court for 14 years and he calls the campaign to “terminate” the three justices worrisome. “I’m very disappointed that there would be this misdirected campaign to try to encourage folks to vote ‘no’ on retention of these three supreme court judges just out of dissatisfaction with one of the many thousands of decisions our supreme court has made over the years,” McCormick says.
Bob Vander Plaats, a three-time candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for governor, announced this morning that he wasn’t going to run as an independent candidate in the fall and would, instead, lead an effort to oust the three justices who signed onto the unanimous 2009 decision that paved the way for gay marriage in Iowa.
McCormick was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 1972 by Republican Governor Robert Ray. McCormick resigned in 1986 and returned to private practice, but he was subject to several retention elections during his 14-year tenure on the court.
“I didn’t have anything like this arise,” McCormick says. “I’ve not seen it at the appellate court level, previously, that is that there be a controversy of this kind. We’ve had it at the district court level.” There was an unsuccessful campaign in 2004 to oust a district court judge in northwest who granted a divorce to a gay couple that had obtained a civil union in Vermont.
McCormick says there’s no need for the three justices who’ve being targeted this year to mount a competing campaign in their defense. “I believe there are enough of us in the public — in the judiciary and the legal profession and among citizens — who will see this as outrageous and who will take care of whatever needs to be done to resist the campaign to remove them from office,” McCormick says.
McCormick is considered an expert in administrative law and he is the lawyer who represented Congressman Steve King in King’s successful challenge of former Governor Tom Vilsack’s executive order which sought to ban at-work discrimination against state employees who were gay, lesbian or transgender.