retention vote in 2010. Robert George's American Principles Project also provided considerable resources to the campaign. The three were dismissed by Iowa voters marking the first time an Iowa Supreme Court justice was not retained since the retention system was adopted for Iowa justices in 1962.
Furthermore, judges generally do not campaign to retain their seats and did not do so in Iowa in 2010. Doing so would tarnish the dignity of the court. Therefore, almost any well funded and organized effort to oust a judge is going to be successful. As the American Bar Association Journal noted in January, 2011:
Reactions to the elections were immediate. Some praised the election results as a victory against judicial activism and promised they would be repeated elsewhere across the country. Others decried them as a direct threat to judicial independence due to the politicization of judicial selection by special interest groups, many of them out of state, who funded the anti-retention campaign. A few contended that this election would give pause to judges before deciding future controversial matters.
Lawyers comprise less than 0.4% of the population which means that approximately 96% of the electorate are unable to make a professional assessment of judges up for retention. Furthermore, a trained lawyer would make a determination based solely on the merits of the decisions that a judge was responsible for. The 96% is basing its decision on whether they like or dislike the decisions. As a lawyer, Robby George should oppose such efforts. Sadly, he does not.
This has the effect of submitting decisions regarding minority rights to the majority without regard to the constitutional or legal issues involved. What is of particular concern to me is the influence of one particular religious group, the Catholic Church, over matters of state. Without considerable push-back, they have the resources to affect a considerable amount of public policy; often in opposition to their own members. The financial resources of National Organization for Marriage seem limited only by the number of items on their agenda.