The chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court says he has no regrets about the court’s 2009 ruling on gay marriage which has sparked controversy and led to the defeat of three justices in this fall’s retention election.
Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote the opinion and during a television interview that will air tonight on Iowa Public Television, Cady was asked if he regretted issuing that decision.
“Absolutely not. That decision was crafted with all of the energy, all of the strength — everything that we do as judges is in that opinion,” Cady said. “Everything that Iowa is about is in that opinion.”
According to Cady, the uproar will not deter the court from taking other controversial cases.
“Judges accept that as their role in society,” Cady said. “Even a judge that makes a ruling in a criminal case that may result in the suppression of evidence may not be a popular decision, but judges make their decisions based upon the rule of law and that’s what their duty is and that’s the importance and the strength of all of our government.”
Critics of the court’s ruling on same-sex marriage said Cady was “arrogant” when he delivered a formal speech to legislators this past Wednesday and had “poured gasoline” on the effort to impeach Cady and the three justices who remain on the court.
“I understand how there are differing views that may give rise to speech like that,” Cady said. “But as I said also in the speech isthat I think it’s time for all of us to get to know each other a little bit better.”
The three court justices who were voted off the bench left the court at the end of 2010 and Cady was selected by his peers to replace the exiting chief justice.
“To see empty offices even now is a stark, sad reminder that we’ve lost three colleagues that were extremely devoted, dedicated people that served this state proudly,” Cady said.
Cady has begun publicly offering a defense of the courts and the system by which judges are selected in Iowa. Cady suggests the results of last fall’s retention election may give the justices no other option than to raise money themselves and wage public campaigns for retention.
“I don’t think Iowans are going to enjoy it, if that’s the path that we do follow,” Cady said. “I don’t know what another two years is going to hold, but if that, indeed is what judges have to do to stay on the bench and perform their duties, then I’m sure that’s the direction that this state will be going.”
Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins will be up for retention in 2012. Cady and the other two justices face a retention vote in 2016.
Cady’s appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program will air at 7:30 tonight (Friday) and be rebroadcast on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.