Letter from Iowa: Same-Sex Marriage and the Ouster of Three Justices

28 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2010 Last revised: 20 Sep 2011

See all articles by Todd E. Pettys

Todd E. Pettys

University of Iowa - College of Law

Date Written: December 6, 2010


In this contribution to a symposium sponsored by the Kansas Law Review, I examine the path from the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling in Varnum v. Brien (in which the court struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage) to the ouster of three of the court’s seven justices in Iowa’s 2010 judicial retention election. I describe the campaign efforts of the justices’ detractors and supporters. I then suggest a number of lessons that academics, activists, and judges nationwide can learn from the Iowa experience.

Keywords: marriage, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, varnum, judicial retention, retention, ouster, merit selection, democratic constitutionalism

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K30, K39, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

Pettys, Todd E., Letter from Iowa: Same-Sex Marriage and the Ouster of Three Justices (December 6, 2010). Kansas Law Review, Vol. 59, p. 715, 2011, U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-39, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1721158

Todd E. Pettys (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States
319-335-6814 (Phone)
319-335-9098 (Fax)

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