Thursday, November 4, 2010


Just read a New York Times article decrying the ouster of 3 Iowa judges on election day. The judges had been part of a unanimous decision invalidating Iowa's traditional marriage law. Iowa's voters didn't like the decision and dumped 3 of the judges who were up for re-election November 2.

The article had quotes from two law school professors, another from a former California judge who was ousted by voters there, and a final quote from a gay advocacy group spokesperson. All talked about how awful it is that the judges were voted out of office. No surprises there, eh?

Just a quick question, though: weren't the judges voted into office? I mean, that's the system in Iowa, right? The people vote for judges, just like they vote for other political candidates? So is the point of all the hand-wringing that it's okay to vote judges into office, but wrong to vote them out?

Really? Because that makes no sense. If critics want to argue that Iowa shouldn't elect judges, make the argument. Many would agree. But to argue that once a judge is elected he or she should never be voted out of office, well, that is absurd.

What made the article truly uber-strange was that the only perspective from those who ousted the judges was the hope that the election would send a "message." No one explained why a Constitutional right to gay marriage is legally and historically shaky. No one spelled out the political legitimacy problem when judges insist on doing the legislature's policy-making business. No one supplied the plentiful sociological reasons for favoring traditional marriage. (For an interesting story on the subject read this Time Magazine article from 2009. I mention Time deliberately, the point being that even Time gets it. Which is saying something.)

Nada. It's as if only one side of the debate was allowed to explain itself. The majority of Iowans who voted the judges out, well, apparently no one's allowed to explain anything. At least not in the NYT.

Not surprising, from the Times. That's what's sad.

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