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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10/25/10: Vote 'yes' to keep Iowa justice uncorrupted

Thinking about this week's election topic, I could not help but remember a touching, personal story. When I was 6, my grandmother pulled one of my teeth out. The tooth she removed, with surprisingly little effort on her part, was right next to the loose one she had intended to pull. There was much wailing and not so much with the gnashing of teeth. Within the hour, the loose tooth I had been "fiddling" with fell out on its own. This resulted in two very important lessons being learned, in a very visceral way, by me. The first lesson is to never underestimate an old woman with a powerful grip, a clean, dry handkerchief and no patience. The second is never trust an interloper.

Of course, my grandmother felt terrible about what would constitute torture under the Geneva Convention. I know her regret was earnest because back in those days you could just about smack a kid with a log chain at a grocery store in front of a cop and not get so much as a ticket for noise pollution. She never said as much and I may be reading into things, but I believe if she could remember the incident, she would say she acted rashly out of personal irritation as opposed to a legitimate interest in what was best for everyone.

So it goes. Every generation has growing pains, obstacles and noisome interference to deal with. In this upcoming election, Iowans are being bombarded by outside interests to remove three Iowa Supreme Court justices for ruling unanimously a year and a half ago that the state has no vested interest in prohibiting same sex couples from entering into wedded bliss, such as it is. Having read the ruling and being a fan of well-written jurisprudence, I can find nothing particularly biased about the decision. In fact, it's a model of pure legal reasoning so airtight you could can tomatoes in it. It's probably the best written legal opinion since Brown v. Board of Education. It makes me emotional just thinking about it and the best part? It's pure Iowa values written by Iowans for Iowans with no interference from outsiders (http://www.politico.com/static/PPM104_090403_iowacourt.html).     

Agree or disagree, but in an impartial system you win some and you lose some. That's how you know it's impartial. If you get your way all the time, then something IS wrong.  

Do Iowans need help deciding Iowa issues from groups based, according to The Iowa Independent, in Mississippi (American Family Association), Washington, D.C. (Family Research Council), Arizona (Alliance Defense Fund), Georgia (Faith & Freedom Coalition) and New Jersey (National Organization for Marriage)? I don't think so, but then I have faith in Iowans to decide their own fate unlikepIpes Rep. Steve King who is happy to collaborate with interloping outsiders.

The most offensive piece of doublespeak being pushed this season is the "Vote NO to Activist Judges" campaign which would have us destroy our great tradition of a non-political judiciary in the name of keeping our courts "activist free" through political scheming which would virtually guarantee that any future judges would have to be political, partisan campaigners. The kindest thing anyone can say about this campaign is it's like pulling perfectly good teeth.

So let's set aside agendas for one moment and operate from a place of pure, unadulturated, utilitarian pragmatism. Let's use the kind of "enlightened self-interest" that would have made Ayn Rand smile quietly to herself.

According to Jennifer Merriman, communications/new media organizer for OneIowa, there are very good reasons of self-interest why no one should consider politicizing Iowa justices. They are: "Voting out the justices will not reverse the marriage decision. It will not change how justices are chosen. Voting out the justices will make them more likely to take popular opinion into account when making decisions. If one is opposed to gay marriage, one should know that popular opinion is weighing more and more toward gay marriage every day. Voting out the justices WILL make it more likely that a defendant will face a prosecution that's donated to the justice's campaign."

Connie Ryan Terrell of Interfaith Alliance Iowa offered good questions voters should ask themselves when deciding how to vote.

"Do voters really want to have this battle every two years? Do they really want to have to spend millions every two years? Do they really want judges who blow with the wind on whatever 'popular' opinion is every two years? Do they really want judges who are beholden to the other side’s special interest (whatever that happens to be) every two years?"

Greg Jerrett is a freelance writer and marketing consultant. He can be contacted at gjerrett@gmail.com.

1 comment:

chicagobears said...

Great article, Greg. Keep 'em coming.