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Bob Vander Plaats' muddled school civics

by Jeremy Hooper

The Iowa Supreme Court didn't make law. They didn't execute law. They most certainly didn't amend the constitution. In the 2009 marriage equality decision, the unanimous panel of justices did nothing more than determine that the "protect marriage" crowd has no constitutionally kosher reason for denying civil marriage rights to same-sex couples (i.e. they did their jobs):

Iowa Code section 595.2 is unconstitutional because the County has
been unable to identify a constitutionally adequate justification for excluding
plaintiffs from the institution of civil marriage. A new distinction based on
sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the
fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution.
This record, our independent research, and the appropriate equal protection
analysis do not suggest the existence of a justification for such a legislative
classification that substantially furthers any governmental objective.
Consequently, the language in Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil
marriage to a man and a woman must be stricken from the statute, and the
remaining statutory language must be interpreted and applied in a manner
allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil

VI. Conclusion.
The district court properly granted summary judgment to plaintiffs.
Iowa Code section 595.2 violates the equal protection provision of the Iowa
Constitution. Our decision becomes effective upon issuance of
All justices concur.
Varnum decision [G-A-Y]

The "protect marriage" folks are the ones who are trying to amend the constitution, in order to turn the state's most precious governing document into a weapon that will bind the court's gavels and ultimately de-bond the state's same-sex unions. The "protect marriage" kiddos are the ones trying to declare themselves the judge, jury, and executor of a civil marriage system that's governed largely by personal faith views. The protect equality (and fear quote usage) team is the one defending minority rights from majority tyranny, fair-minded courts from wrong-headed retribution, and civics from incivility.

But Bob Vander Plaats, the current Iowa For Freedom head and a former high school principal himself, doesn't want you to realize that his side failed to make winnable arguments in court, or that the same court is continuing the independent judiciary's long history of ensuring minority rights are upheld in this country. Instead, he wants to continue reducing the Iowa matter to a false "people vs. the courts" meme in a way that confuses adults and middle schoolers alike:

"Middle School Civics teaches us that it is the power of the legislature, who represents the people, to make law. The executive authority to execute law belongs to the governor. And, most importantly, it is only the people who are authorized to amend the constitution.

The Iowa Supreme Court is granted none of these powers by our constitution. Yet, this unelected body usurped the powers granted to the legislature, to the governor, and to the people when they ruled Iowa to be a “same sex” marriage state. If judges can redefine marriage, they can redefine who should pay taxes and how much, who can own and carry a gun and whose private property rights get protected – or do not.

Can judges hear arguments in cases of tax law, gun ownership, or private property rights? Well yea. Duh. But why is that presented as a straw man negative that's meant to punish evangelical conservatives!??!? Our courts hear cases on any number of matters. Again: That is the role! But the outcome is determined by legal merit, not some sort of "let's get 'em" mentality. That vindictive mentality belongs to the team that wants to hurt gay people and their allies in the equality fight, co-equal branches of government be damned!

If we had to choose the most annoying aspect of this current Iowa For Freedom campaign (which is kind of like choosing our favorite to indoctrinate), it has to be this complete removal of merit from the conversation. Vander Plaats and company never talk about the fact that every situation must pass legal muster in order to move forward: Instead, they want to high court jurists to sound like willy nilly rogues who all went to law school at Personal Liberal Whim U. DON'T BUY IT, IOWA!

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