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Buying Time 2010: Iowa

The 2010 reports continue the groundbreaking analysis conducted since 2000 examining the sponsorship, content and costs of televised state Supreme Court campaign ads.

Published: September 14, 2010

Iowa has historically been spared the type of expensive campaigns and mud-slinging attack ads that have been typical in other states’ judicial elections, because Iowa Supreme Court justices are initially appointed to the bench.  And while justices must stand for periodic retention elections, these have historically been quiet, low-spending races.  In 2010, however, big changes appeared for Iowa’s normally sedate retention elections.  Three justices up for retention in Iowa angered social conservatives last year when they voted to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.  Interest groups on the right — including the National Organization for Marriage — targeted the justices, and led a campaign to oust them from the bench.  A bipartisan, nonprofit group called Iowans for Fair and Impartial Courts formed to defend the justices, and the retention contests were the most expensive retention elections in state history. All three justices were voted out of office on November 2, 2010.

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October 19, 2010 – Activist Judge

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An advertisement from Iowa for Freedom urges voters to hold activist judges accountable.

October 4, 2010 – Iowa Takes Pride in its Fair and Impartial Courts

Iowans for Fair and Impartial Courts radio advertisement promotes the group’s website.

Septermber 13, 2010 – Send Them a Message

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An advertisement from Iowa for Freedom blasts three sitting justices for being “liberal and out of control” based on their votes to strike down Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriage.


Mike Glover, Sleepy Judge Vote A Focal Point Of Iowa Election, Associated Press, Monday, November 1, 2010.

Grant Schulte, Iowans Dismiss Three Justices, Des Moines Register, November 3, 2010.

A.G. Sulzberger, In Iowa, Voters Oust Judges Over Marriage Issue, New York Times, November 3, 2010.

Editorial, From Iowa, A Chilling Message For Judges, USA Today, November 5, 2010; Editorial, Firing Judges, Washington Post, November 5, 2010.

Lynda Waddington, Iowa Family Policy Center: Vote ‘No’ On All Judges, Not Just Supreme Court, The Iowa Independent, October 20, 2010.

Supporters Of Iowa Justices Launch Radio Ads, Associated Press, October 15, 2010.

Grant Schulte, King, Santorum To Campaign Against Justices, Des Moines Register, October 19, 2010.

Grant Schulte, Iowa Pastor: Churches Will Urge Voters To Remove 3 Justices, Des Moines Register, October 11, 2010.

Ken Black, Judicial Battle Heating Up In Final Weeks, Iowa Times-Republican, October 10, 2010.

Jason Hancock, Vander Plaats Rallies to Defense of Church Facing IRS Investigation, Iowa Independent, October 8, 2010.

Jason Hancock, Second Iowa pastor takes aim at judges, Iowa Independent, October 7, 2010.

Grant Schulte, Robo-Call Campaign Urges Iowans To Remove Justices, Des Moines Register, October 6, 2010.

Molly Montag, Gordon Says 100 Churches Will Join Ouster Effort, Sioux City Journal, October 2, 2010.

Jason Hancock, Sioux City Pastor Responds To Calls For IRS Investigation, Iowa Independent, September 30, 2010.

Grant Schulte, Iowa Poll: Retention Of Justices A Tossup, Des Moines Register, October 4, 2010.

Coalition Opposes Politicizing Judiciary, The Des Moines Register, September 28, 2010.

A.G. Sulzberger, Voters Moving to Oust Judges Over Decisions, The New York Times, September 24, 2010.

Rod Boshart, Defenders Of Iowa Court System Warn Against Partisan Crusade, The Quad-City Times, September 17, 2010.

Jesse Zwick, In Wake Of Ballot Initiatives, Questions About The National Organization For Marriage’s Funding, The Washington Independent, September 20, 2010.

Jason Hancock, Group Hoping To Oust Iowa Judges Launches First TV Ad, The Iowa Independent, September 14, 2010.

Jason Hancock, National Organization For Marriage Drops $235K On Iowa TV Campaign, The Iowa Independent, September 14, 2010.

Jason Hancock, 2012 hopefuls support campaign to oust judges, The Iowa Independent, August 13, 2010.