COUNCIL BLUFFS — It has been an interesting two years for the highest court in the state.
Chief Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady stopped in Council Bluffs last week to discuss the state of the judicial branch and where it stands after two years unlike any in recent memory.
Cady said he is traveling across Iowa to talk to district court judges, district court employees and clerks of the court about moving forward and sharing with the public just what the judicial branch does, and why.
“It’s a different role now,” he said of his speaking tour. “One we never felt we needed to do. Judges are accustomed to working in the background.”
But following November elections that saw former Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit ousted, Cady said judges must inform the citizens about the justice system.
The justices were targeted because of a unanimous court decision in April 2009 allowing same-sex marriages in Iowa.
Cady said the case was decided on the law, and he believes the decision upholds the principles of the Iowa Constitution.
“Judges decide cases based upon facts brought into the courtroom by very competent, skilled lawyers,” he said. “Our obligation is embodied in our oath and embodied in our ethics to decide cases based on the facts, not a belief system built on facts that may have existed in the past.
“I think judges make decisions based on a different approach than the public in general, and that is the value of our judicial system.”
Cady said he doesn’t think the Supreme Court justices viewed the same-sex marriage decision any differently than any case the court has had in front of it.
Cady said he fears that the judicial system will turn into a politically charged process.
The system has been built to keep politics out of the system, Cady said, but the 2010 election appeared to invite politics back into the system.
“I’m not out here to say the public shouldn’t have a retention vote,” he said. “But the public should understand the important voice they have and be informed of the consequences of using that voice to remove judges for simply doing their jobs.”