Iowa voters have fired three sitting state Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2009.
Tuesday night was the first time voters have booted a state Supreme Court justice since 1962, when Iowa adopted the current system for judicial retention.
Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, and justices David Baker and Michael Streit were on the bench when the court unanimously granted same-sex couples the opportunity to marry. The three justices were the only members of the seven-seat high court to face a retention vote this year, and all failed to gather enough “yes” votes to retain their seats.
The retention vote became a referendum on the marriage issue, rather than on the justices themselves, with groups such as Iowa for Freedom and Fair Courts for Us agitating for voters to send a message on gay unions.
The justices, who did not significantly campaign, issued a collective statement that decried the efforts of the groups that campaigned against them.
“We also want to acknowledge and thank all the Iowans, from across the political spectrum and from different walks of life, who worked tirelessly over the past few months to defend Iowa's high-caliber court system against an unprecedented attack by out-of-state special interest groups,” the statement reads.
In Iowa, state Supreme Court justice nominees are selected by a nominating commission, then appointed by the governor. Voters decide whether to retain judges every eight years.