With the news that former Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats will be heading up Iowa Family Policy Center there now is speculation about his role with the upcoming 2012 Presidential race will be. He will be in the position leading one of Iowa’s social conservative activist groups in being influential as the road for the White House, for the Republicans at least (unless President Obama has a primary challenger) starts with the Iowa Caucus.
Enter WHO Radio’s Steve Deace and his show’s political director, Wes Enos (who worked for both BVP and Mike Huckabee) who took time this afternoon to speculate on what may be. I will agree, looking at Iowa’s political landscape as it stands now, (barring some unforeseen catastrophe) judicial reform will be a hot issue in 2012. Deace rightly mentions that the no vote on the retention of judges practically mirrored the percentage of the vote that Governor-Elect Terry Branstad received. How much it will play in the presidential race is a different question altogether as there are different issues with the Federal and Iowa judicial systems that will require different solutions. We should hear from the candidates on this issue.
I also agree that it is very likely that the majority of caucus goers will likely be people who voted for BVP in the primary. Attending the Caucus takes a little more commitment than voting in a primary. It is done at one particular time rather than have polls open all day so you typically have less people who attend a Caucus than who vote in a primary. It is quite likely that if we had a Gubernatorial caucus Bob Vander Plaats could have emerged as the Republican nominee and quite possibly be the Governor-Elect today. But it wasn’t and he isn’t.
That is the extent of my agreement. I’m uncomfortable with and quite frankly frustrated by the talk of Bob Vander Plaats being a kingmaker. I was frustrated in the primary that it seemed that the social issues I care about was wrapped up in one personality and one idea. It looks like that Deace and possibly others look to do the same again. We’re back to discussing the executive order, *the silver bullet* that will bring a judicial oligarchy to its knees. If you didn’t live in Iowa and were not following the Governor’s race, Vander Plaats hammered on judicial reform and floated the idea of an executive order placing a stay on the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision overruling Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act.
It was a bold idea. It was a original idea. It is also an unconstitutional idea.
That is why I’m so frustrated with those who push this idea. I want judicial reform. I want to see the definition of marriage protected. I want the Constitution to be honored and upheld in the process. Had there been a provision in the Iowa Constitution for an executive order I would have been totally on board. There isn’t, and frankly I don’t want to substitute a judicial oligarchy for an executive tyrant. There all sorts of constitutional remedies to address the marriage ruling and the need for judicial reform, one of which we exercised by ousting the three Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention this go around. We need to push for a marriage amendment. Deace and Enos also discussed the Iowa General Assembly passing a bill similar to DOMA, but including the language “there will be no judicial review.” Our Legislature has the constitutional ability to do that.
But the executive order is an idea that is unconstitutional, and simply unenforceable. So to take this idea to the presidential candidates as the gold standard for judicial reform, and to especially hold former Governors to this standard is an inane proposition. Each Governor has a state constitution that they have sworn to uphold, and with it that state constitution there are limits to their power.
That is one of the reasons why a majority of Republicans chose not to vote for Bob Vander Plaats on primary day, and why Bob Vander Plaats shouldn’t be deemed a kingmaker. When is the last time we’ve seen a candidate who has never won an election where his name is n the ballot be seen as a kingmaker? Never.
Judicial reform is an issue that must be discussed in Iowa and nationally. Let’s not make it subservient to one personality and one idea.