Supporters of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins and the other 74 judges and justices up for a retention vote on November’s ballot will travel the state next week — shadowing a conservative group’s bus tour to urge a “no” vote on Wiggins. 

“Our plan is to appear at each of the locations scheduled on the tour where The Family Leader group is appearing with their bus and we’ll be providing what we believe is accurate and impartial information to Iowa votes,” says Iowa State Bar Association president Cynthia Moser. “And encouraging them, obviously, to turn their ballots over and vote ‘yes’ on the judges and justices that are on the ballot.”

The Bar Association’s “Yes Iowa Judges” statewide tour will kick off Monday at 9 a.m.– at the same time and place as The Family Leader’s “NO Wiggins” bus tour begins in Des Moines. The conservative group organized a statewide bus tour in 2010 that promoted its ultimately successful effort to vote three Iowa Supreme Court justices off the bench who had joined the court’s 2009 ruling on same-sex marriage. Now, they’re targeting Justice David Wiggins for joining the same ruling.

Moser, an attorney from Sioux City, says there is a definite “downside” to “politicizing” the courts.

“I think obviously 2010 was a turning point for all of us who saw what happened to three exceptionally talented and dedicated Supreme Court justices,” Moser says. “I think it was a galvanizing event.”

Earlier this week the Iowa State Bar Association’s “board of governors” met and approved the plan for a “pro-judge” bus tour to “counter-balance” what it calls the “misinformation frequently espoused by vote no groups.”

“I think what you’re seeing now is really an evolution of a plan…to engage our membership to go out and education Iowans,” she says, “and to urge them to vote yes for all the judges and justices that are on the ballot.”

About 8000 lawyers and judges are members of the Iowa State Bar Association — the oldest bar association in the country — and Moser expects local lawyers to speak in many of the cities where the dueling bus tours will stop.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum — the winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses — will travel around Monday with the bus tour urging a “NO Wiggins” vote in November. Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will join the anti-judge bus tour in Iowa on Wednesday.

The dueling bus tours are scheduled to make stops in Des Moines, Pella, Ottumwa, Burlington and Muscatine on Monday. Over the following four days, stops are scheduled in 10 other cities around the state.