image This was from a reader’s email sent to Nathan Tucker (an attorney from Davenport, IA who blogs at The Iowa Republican), Jan Mickelson of WHO Radio and myself, published with permission – SVH

Hello Nathan,

Heard you on Jan Mickelson this past Thursday (listen above) and looked up your web page – very impressive. I totally agree with you on your stance for need of judicial term limits and your suggestions.

In the unlikely event you are unaware of this First Amendment case regarding seating of judges (both elected and those appointed under the Missouri Plan), I offer this citation, REPUBLICAN PARTY OF MINNESOTA ET AL. v. WHITE, CHAIRPERSON, MINNESOTA BOARD OF JUDICIAL STANDARDS, ET AL 536 U.S. 765 (2002).

Justice Scalia wrote the opinion in the above 5-4 decision. What I find of note pervasive throughout the writings of the justices in concurring and dissenting opinions is their hang-up on how state judges need to “watch their mouths” in election campaigns so that once they get on the bench they can remain there as long as they desire.  They discuss in depth the pros and cons of elected vis a vis appointed judges. What they completely ignore, however, is the unconstitutionality of appointing state judges under the Missouri Plan. In fact, in her concurring opinion, Justice O’Conner actually states somewhat that the Missouri Plan is a good thing!

I urge you to take a gander at the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, Section 2, and decide for yourself if Iowa and a host of other states are entitled to representation in the Congress because We the People in Iowa and those other states are not permitted to choose our judges. Retention elections do not count, as, in my opinion, those are nothing more than “This is what we shoved down your throat, do you want to keep choking on them — or do you want someone else that we, the elite, will gag you with?”

About the only luminescence of late regarding the mess we are in with the Iowa judiciary were your words spoken on Jan’s program this past week and your article published on the net, plus Shane Vander Hart’s blog in Caffeinated Thoughts. I was not surprised to see that the vast majority of Iowa Supreme Court justices and Iowa Court of Appeals judges are of Democrat persuasion, with the exception of two in the Court of Appeals. Why was I not surprised? Aren’t the vast majority of Iowa Bar Association members Democrats? And under the judicial nominating process Bar Association members are half the committee makeup.

And what’s this nonsense going on in the fallout from the Varnum opinion, that Governor Terry Branstad appointed a number of the justices rendering such decision? When Governor Branstad chose candidates to fill vacancies he was given a choice of three people named by the judicial nominating committee. He could pick one of the three or none of the three. He could not write in someone of his own choice. Take it or leave it. Not choosing any of the three after 30 days results in the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court making the choice. [See: Article V, Section 15, Iowa Constitution] [Someone really needs to whisper the forgoing into Steve Deace’s ear.]

I believe there should be a movement started to repeal the 21st Amendment to the Iowa Constitution and the people in Iowa go back to judging those that judge them. Yes, there will be many a naysayer bringing up the potential of corruption, etc., but isn’t that what we have now with the current unconstitutional method? [US Const., Amend. 14, Sec. 2] The Varnum case speaks loudly for conservative Republicans and Independents to get to vote for judges, as now Democrats do the appointing, even with a Republican governor. That fact is borne out by your research showing the liberal political leanings of most of Iowa’s appellate judges, plus the extra-liberal leanings of district court judges that brought the Varnum case to the Supreme Court in the first place.

Dale Mastarone

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