Iowa vote seen as gay marriage test

November 5, 2012

A sign in Anamosa, Iowa, urging voters to give Justice David Wiggins the boot. (Jenna Johnson -- The Washington Post)

In Iowa, the front of the ballot usually contains all of the high profile races for president, Congress, the state house or local offices, like county sheriff. Turn that ballot over, and there's this question: "Shall the following judges of the Supreme Court be retained in office?" It's followed by the names of four sitting justices.

One of those, Justice David S. Wiggins, has seen his name plastered on political signs along country highways, as there's a campaign underway to boot him from the bench.

Wiggins was on the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009 when it struck down Iowa’s ban on gay marriage in a 7-0 ruling. In 2010, Christian conservatives led a campaign that successfully removed three of those justices. (Judges are appointed in Iowa, not elected, but they face periodic retention elections.) Now Wiggins is being targeted; he is the only justice who voted on gay marriage up for a vote this year.

But this time, the social conservatives face higher odds. Wiggins has a more active group of supporters than his colleagues did three years ago. With pro-gay-marriage initiatives on ballots in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, opposing interest-group money is limited. And views on gay marriage have softened over the past few years.

Jenna Johnson writes about Maryland politics, including the General Assembly, the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2014 election.
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