The three Iowa Supreme Court Justices voted off the bench in November say they would not comply with a possible injunction to keep them in office beyond December 31. Three plaintiffs challenged their dismissal in a lawsuit, but they’ve now agreed to drop the matter.
Plaintiff John Roehrick, a former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, explained the decision Monday. “Since the Supreme Court’s official position was to resist (the injunction), we saw no reason to go forward,” Roehrick said. “So, we withdrew it.” Roehrick and two others sued on constitutional grounds – claiming the retention vote which threw Justices Marsha Ternus, Michael Streit and David Baker off the bench should have occurred on a separate ballot on November 2nd.
Roehrick says he wishes the justices would have stayed put. “We would have liked to have done that, keep them in their jobs until the issue was resolved. But the primary purpose was to address the constitutionality of the statute,” Roehrick said.
A hearing will occur after the first of the year on the lawsuit’s remaining question – whether retention votes on judges in the future should occur on their own ballots, separate from other executive and legislative races. “It’s going to call attention to the positions of the judiciary – and they really are independent from executive and legislative, which they’re supposed to be,” Roehrick said.
Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro is also named in the suit. His attorneys have moved to dismiss the case, and a hearing on that is scheduled next month.
The justices were targeted for removal after the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous decision which paved the way for same-sex marriage in the state.