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Buying Time 2012: Iowa

This page features Iowa judicial ads of 2012.

Published: October 5, 2012

For inform­a­tion on Iowa’s spend­ing, and all other tele­vi­sion spend­ing in state supreme court races, click here.

Iowa has histor­ic­ally been spared the expens­ive campaigns and mud-sling­ing attack ads that have been typical in other states’ judi­cial elec­tions because state 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 in Iowa’s normally sedate reten­tion elec­tions.  Follow­ing the Iowa Supreme Court’s unan­im­ous 2009 decision strik­ing down the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, interest groups on the right — includ­ing the National Organ­iz­a­tion for Marriage — targeted the three justices up for reten­tion in 2010 and led a campaign that ended in their ouster from the bench.  Those reten­tion contests were the most expens­ive reten­tion elec­tions in state history.

This year, Justice David Wiggins, who also parti­cip­ated in the marriage decision, was up for reten­tion. Justice Wiggins himself did not fundraiser, but pro- and anti-Wiggins groups spent over $800,000 on the race. Wiggins won the race and main­tained his seat on the bench. Three other justices who did not parti­cip­ate in the 2009 marriage decision, Justices Bruce B. Zager, Edward Mans­field, and Thomas Water­man, also won reten­tion elec­tions this year..

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Octo­ber 29, 2012 – Free­dom is an Issue

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An ad by iowans for Free­dom saying, “It’s we the people, not we the courts.”

Octo­ber 3, 2012 – Redi­fin­ing Marriage

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An ad sponsored by the National Organ­iz­a­tion of Marriage accus­ing Justice David Wiggins of redi­fin­ing marriage.


Lucky Sever­son, Judi­cial Elec­tions, PBS Reli­gion and Ethics News Weekly, Octo­ber 5

Edit­or­ial, Polit­ics, Prin­ciple and an Attack on the CourtsThe New York Times, Septem­ber 23, 2012 

Trish Mehaf­fey, Iowa State Bar Starts Its “Yes Iowa Judges” Statewide Tour Next WeekThe Gazette, Septem­ber 21, 2012 

Mike Wiser, Justice Wiggins at Center of 2 Bus Tours Across IowaQuad-City Times, Septem­ber 22, 2012 

Rod Boshart, Santorum, Jindal Join Effort to Oust an Iowa Supreme Court JusticeWater­loo Cedar Falls Cour­ier, Septem­ber 18, 2012