A spokesman for the group that sent out questionnaires to Iowa judges who’ll be on the ballot in November says 13 of the 85 judges responded. Chuck Hurley is the president of the of the Iowa Family Policy Center — one of coalition of conservative groups calling itself “Iowans Concerned About Judges.”
Hurley says, “It’s a good start. This is the first time in the 40-plus year history of voting on judges that any judges have responded to any questionnaires. So, you know, we have a ways to go yet. A lot of judges are still worried that they’ll impeded their impartiality if they answer these questions.”
Hurley says the questionnaire asked about issues such as state-sponsored college scholarships, assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, abortion and constitutional philosophies. He says the questionnaires came about after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Minnesota case that said judges could answer surveys.
Hurley says the U.S. Supreme Court state very “emphatically and clearly” that judges wouldn’t harm their impartiality by answering the questions. He expects Iowa judges to slowly start answering the questionnaires. Hurley says the number one question his office gets around election time is how to know how to vote on judges. Hurley says, “Conscientious voters want information.” He says the Supreme Court says stopping judges from answering the questionnaires is “State imposed ignorance.”
Hurley says the judges haven’t answered the complete questionnaire, but Hurley says that will come in time.
The Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, Louis Lavorato, responded to the announcement of the questionnaires by saying “if a judge exercises his or her right to announce a position on an issue, the judge’s impartiality may be called into question, and the judge may have to decline to handle cases involving the issue. ” Hurley thinks that statement may’ve kept some judges from returning the questionnaire. Hurley says it may have because Lavaroto is the top state judge, but Hurley says the U.S. Supreme Court, the top federal authority, says it is “even desirable to select judges who have preconceived views on legal issues.”
Hurley says he believes returning the questionnaires will be come a common practice. Hurley says, “What we’ve got is a discrepancy between some Iowa judges and the U.S. Supreme Court. And I think ultimately that will work itself out, and the U.S. Supreme Court will be vindicated.” To view the responses of the judges who turned in their questionnaires,surf to:www.iowansconcernedaboutjudges.com.
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