Group forms to protect Iowa judge from right-wing revenge

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Iowa Justice David Wiggins

A newly formed group is spearheading an effort to retain an Iowa Supreme Court justice who others are trying to oust because of his support of a ruling that legalized gay marriage in the state.

Justice Not Politics Action announced a campaign last week to support the retention of David Wiggins and all other judges on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

“Iowa judges have a strong tradition of ruling based on law,” Sally Pederson, former Iowa lieutenant governor and chairwoman of Justice Not Politics Action, said in a statement Thursday.

Voting to retain judges is a “vote to protect our courts,” Pederson said.

“Iowa Democrats, Republicans and independents need to stand together to prevent out-of-state special interest groups from intimidating our judges by threatening to spend millions to oust them,” she said.

Justice Not Politics Action signed up supporters and distribute campaign materials at the Iowa-Northern Iowa football game Saturday in Iowa City.

Wiggins is one of seven justices involved in the 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. He’s the fourth justice in the case to come up for a retention vote. Three others were booted off the bench by voters in 2010 following an ouster campaign led by Iowans for Freedom, an offshoot of the conservative group Family Leader.

Iowans for Freedom has promised a campaign aimed at driving Wiggins from office. Those opposed to retaining Wiggins plan to embark on a four-city “No Wiggins” bus tour in the state starting Sept. 24 from Des Moines.

“We are very passionate about our effort to restore integrity to the Iowa Supreme Court by ensuring the constitutional intent for the separation of powers,” said Bob Vander Plaats, state chairman of Iowans for Freedom, in a news release earlier this month announcing the bus tour.

“This is a freedom issue and we believe that voting ‘No’ on Wiggins will help preserve freedoms, the constitution, and the integrity of the judicial system,” he said.