Bus battle

Friday, September 28, 2012
Dave Damstrom, of Spencer, holds a sign in support of the "Yes Iowa Judges" bus tour while Sioux City attorney and former Iowa State Bar Association President Dan Moore, addresses a couple dozen individuals who lingered in the park as he spoke. Moore advocated for a "Yes" vote for all four judges up for retention, including David Wiggins. (Photo by Gabe Licht)

Tours duel over judge retention

A warm, sunny afternoon set the scene for two dueling bus tours and about 50 people at East Leach Park Thursday.

The "No Wiggins" bus tour, aimed at removing one of the justices involved in the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous decision that ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, arrived first.

"He's proven how brazen he is and I don't think he'll get any better unless we hold him to it," Iowans for Freedom Co-Chair Tamara Scott said of David Wiggins. "We talked about that perfect storm. I will tell you the sun is shining right here and it feels good, but there is still a black cloud looming, driving up right now as a matter of fact."

Scott was referring to an Iowa State Bar Association bus with "Yes Freedom, Yes Liberty, Yes Iowa Judges," painted on it, in opposition of the "No Wiggins" tour.

Spirit Lake attorney Ned Bjornstad repeatedly shouted "Go away" leading up to, in between and after speakers with the "No Wiggins" bus tour, during a stop at East Leach Park on Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Randy M. Cauthron)

"Yes Iowa Judges" tour representatives waited until the first tour left before speaking on the issue, but Spirit Lake attorney Ned Bjornstad was not as patient, as he shouted, "Go away!" throughout the half-hour event. Spencer resident Dave Damstrom held a sign reading "Democracy, not theocracy," and "Equality for all is freedom," while others waved the message, "I'm a fan of Iowa's FAIR and IMPARTIAL courts."

Iowans for Freedom chairman Bob Vander Plaats charged the Supreme Court with ruling against "the laws of nature and the laws of nature's God" and legislating from the bench.

"The Varnum (v. Brien) opinion didn't stop with the voiding of the Defense of Marriage Act," the three-time Iowa gubernatorial candidate said. "It went beyond and said Iowa will be a same-sex marriage state. ... That's the legislature's job, not the court's job. Then they said all 99 counties will follow suit. They can't execute squat."

Vander Plaats also argued that Iowans' liberties are at risk because of Wiggins' and his six colleagues' decision.

Iowans For Freedom Chairman Bob Vander Plaats, one of the sponsors of the "No Wiggins" bus tour, emphasized the need to remove what his group believes are "activist" Iowa Supreme Court justices. The group is seeking public support for the ouster of David Wiggins, the only judge up for retention, who was a part of the high court's unanimous ruling on same-sex marriage in April of 2009. (Photo by Gabe Licht)

"The vote 'no' advocates' description of the courts' ruling threatening freedom is false," past ISBA President Dan Moore countered. "They say if the justices are not voted out, all of our freedoms and rights are at risk, including the Second Amendment, our property and liberty. The truth is the Iowa Supreme Court applied the constitution to protect the freedoms and liberties of our citizens.

"The court's opponents make false statements and misleading claims," Moore continued. "We call upon Iowans to reject their use of prejudices and falsehoods and reject their efforts to politicize our courts."

He said the justices followed their sworn oath and applied the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Later, he added a "No" vote would not change the law.

Patriot Voices spokeswoman Kim Lehman called for consistency.

"In 2010, three of those justices were up for retention and were removed by Iowa voters," she said. "Now there is another judge that sat on that court that is up for retention. I have to remind everyone that if we removed those three, doesn't it make sense that this judge should also be removed?"

"In the Varnum (v. Brien) decision that was given to us by these nine activist judges, there was part of the opinion that stated, 'Plaintiffs presented an abundance of evidence and research confirmed by our own evidence and research," Lehman continued, saying that research violated Iowa Code Chapter 51.

Lehman referenced a quote by Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, which is plastered on the side of the "No Wiggins" bus.

"Not only did this judge say, 'Tell me, in your best way, how can we get around the Iowa Constitution?' but he also broke the judicial conduct all judges are to uphold," Lehman said.

The quote came from an interview of eventual Supreme Court nominee Angela Onwuachi-Willig, an Iowa law professor who was not yet a member of the ISBA.

Scott, of Iowans for Freedom, referred to an IASB survey that showed 63 percent of Wiggins' peers would retain him, calling that figure the equivalent of a D- grade.

"He had high marks in individual categories," Moore said. "On the question of, 'Should he be retained?' that's where he received a 63 percent. There are no grades. That's close to a two-thirds approval rating. I'm guessing any politician would be happy with that."

Vander Plaats begged to differ, saying, "Most of the justices we voted off in 2010 were in the mid '80s. What they (survey respondents) said was Wiggins is arrogant, he's controversial, he's not very bright and he's lazy. And yet, we have people saying, 'But we should retain them.'"

Moore disputed those assessments, saying, "He knows Iowans, he knows the law, he knows the Constitution. It would be disappointing to lose him."

Furthermore, he argued against politicizing the Iowa court's system.

"When retention campaigns become political ... the fairness and impartiality of our courts are threatened," Moore said. "At the end of the day, the debate about controversial court decisions and the judges that make them boil down to a simple question. What kind of court system do we want? A court system that bases rulings based on public opinion polls, campaign contributions and political intimidation or a court system that issues impartial rulings based on the rule of law?"

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  • Give em hell Ned.

    -- Posted by Doctlby on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 8:28 AM
  • So in 2009 Same sex marriage was made legal in Iowa. My question to these No Wiggins people is how has this hurt our state? Its been 3 years and I don't see a detriment.

    -- Posted by joev on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 11:02 AM
  • And yet State after State that is actually "allowed" to Vote on the subject, routinely strike it down. Must be that folks just hate Gay people. What else could it possibly be? LOL!

    You may not feel the "change" directly today joev, but over time all the "change" this would bring about down the road SHOULD scare the hell out of you. What follows? Any idea? Me neither, but I know for certain if Liberal Judges and/or Politicians are doing it for "our own good", be prepared to get bent over in some form or fashion (no pun intended).

    If it were up to the Liberals, actual hard working tax paying American Citizens would never have an actual say on anything. Wonder where you'll all end up when there is no one left to foot the bill?

    No thanks to your continued social experiment efforts, you may or may not have noticed but they all "shockingly" fail miserably, at a huge cost (but since money grows on trees, who cares right?).

    -- Posted by Dick Butkus on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 4:39 PM
  • NO Vander Plaats

    -- Posted by qMarq19 on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 7:43 PM
  • Dick Butkus you must either be one of the Tea Party members or one of the misinformed Republicans. Vander Plaats whole campaign against this judge is really based on his Christian beliefs. So again how has same sex marriage been a detriment to our state? Doesn't it actually bring more tax into the state? Don't joint incomes pay more in taxes? I could be wrong on that point since I'm not married but thank God someday I can marry the person I love.

    -- Posted by joev on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 9:59 AM
  • Dick Butkus is Randy Cauthron.

    -- Posted by farmergirl.sp on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 8:29 AM
  • farmergirl.sp - Is that true or is that speculation?

    -- Posted by Sony on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 10:54 AM
  • I actually used to think DownWithDems could be Randy. Then I thought I knew who he was later, but that gentleman unfortunately passed away, but his username lives on.

    I just don't think our fine editor comes on these forums to argue, essentially, with himself. Sometimes he posts clarifications and uses his real name when he does so. I certainly trust him to not play games on the forums.

    It would be easier if everyone was willing to sign his or her name here, but I understand why some might be hesitant.

    -- Posted by AmyPeterson on Thu, Oct 4, 2012, at 1:53 PM
  • I think I'll start calling him Dick Butkus just for fun...maybe I'll leave out the "kus".

    -- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 4:14 PM
  • Sony - My neighbor's boyfriend's cousin says so. Isn't that how urban legends get started? But no, I don't really know for sure, it's just what someone told me. But you notice he has not come on this forum to deny it.

    Leah - LOL.

    -- Posted by farmergirl.sp on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 4:43 PM
  • BTW, farmergirl, Randy ALWAYS uses his given name. Check out the printed version in Saturday's paper. Why would he have to use a fake name when everyone knows where he stands on the issues? He is a man of conviction and has no need whatsoever to hide his name.

    -- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Mon, Oct 8, 2012, at 7:54 AM
  • Yeah joev, joint incomes do pay more in taxes. The "trick" is getting card carrying Liberals to actually work. I don't think constantly carrying protest signs pays all that well, but it will certainly qualify for free Government sponsored (i.e. - The Working Class Taxpayer)handouts.

    I'm all for anyone having a voice or an opinion, where I draw the line is when I have to pay for your lunacy.

    -- Posted by Dick Butkus on Mon, Oct 8, 2012, at 9:36 PM
  • Dick - Do you have any evidence or data that we can access that correlates either unemployment or government assistance with these demonstrators (or other demonstrations in Iowa)? At present there is a logic gap between your premises "These people are protesting" and "They are receiving government assistance" and your conclusion "I shouldn't have to pay for liberal protestors." I'm paraphrasing, of course.

    -- Posted by Sony on Tue, Oct 9, 2012, at 1:07 PM
  • Mr. Dick Butkus, I support the right for same sex couples to marry, I personally don't see why it is such a big deal. Who does it hurt? How does it effect you, or anyone else for that matter? I have countless friends in the LGBT community, and not a single one of them are unemployed. More than one of them are business owners, the vast majority of them are successful business people. I am also a success business owner, Where do we fit into your "card carrying liberal" theory?

    And Amy I agree I wish that the Daily Reporter would make it mandatory that people use their given names in the comments as they do in letters to the editor, I think it would weed out a lot of comments. (and yes, Tara Patrick is my real name)

    -- Posted by Tara,Patrick on Tue, Oct 9, 2012, at 7:27 PM
  • Dick um never been unemployed. College educated as well. Not sure what you're getting at.

    -- Posted by joev on Tue, Oct 9, 2012, at 9:15 PM
  • Rand-- Um, I mean Dick, if you're interested in reading some sensible, well-thought out and articulately expressed opinions, take a look at JP Greer's recent blog: http://www.spencerdailyreporter.com/blog...

    -- Posted by farmergirl.sp on Tue, Oct 9, 2012, at 9:34 PM
  • farmgirl.sp, maybe you missed the earlier post. Dick Butkus is NOT Randy Cauthron. I know Randy and he has to much pride to hide behind a screen name.

    As his WIFE Leah Cauthron said earlier, "He is a man of conviction and has no need whatsoever to hide his name."

    -- Posted by Tara,Patrick on Tue, Oct 9, 2012, at 10:22 PM
  • I didn't miss the earlier post.

    -- Posted by farmergirl.sp on Wed, Oct 10, 2012, at 8:02 AM
  • Whether he is or is not "Dick Butkus" of course he has reason to hide his name. Randy has more or a reason to hide his name than anyone else posting here. The DR lists him as the "News Editor" of the paper - a position which objectivity is paramount. As an aside, this is also why most papers have non-editors write op-ed pieces. If Randy were to espouse his right-wing beliefs too much, people may start to question his objectivity.

    Given the information we have, I doubt that Randy is Dick Butkus, but I'm also not naive enough think that he doesn't have a reason to use a screen name.

    -- Posted by Sony on Wed, Oct 10, 2012, at 12:14 PM
    Response by Paula Buenger:
    Actually, most papers DO have editors write op-Ed pieces and editorials. That's a big part of their job.

    Opinion pages are the place to publish individual opinions, and my staff and I regularly do so.

    None of my staff have anonymous screen names on this site. I have access to the back end system, which includes all users names and IP addresses. While some users, including yourself, use false names in registering, your IP address is what it is.

    Objectivity is paramount on our news pages....the opinion page is the place for opinions, which are those of the writer, not the paper as a whole.

    Hope this clears up this latest "mystery."

  • Ouch. Poorly worded first sentence in my earlier post. It should have been, "Whether Randy is 'Dick Butkus" or not, Randy does have a reason to use a screen name when posting comments."

    -- Posted by Sony on Wed, Oct 10, 2012, at 12:17 PM
  • Paula, This has nothing to do with the discussion but I was wondering how you know that none of your employees have anonymous screen names? I do not know much about ip address's so i was curious. Even though you have this back end system access how does that let you know who the person is. I wouldn't think someone could find out who I am just by my ip? That seems like it would be an invasion of privacy. Once again this has nothing to do with the discussion I just had an interest.

    -- Posted by deweyh on Wed, Oct 10, 2012, at 1:29 PM
    Response by Paula Buenger:
    Our company policy prohibits news staff anonymous comments.

    I know, based on IP addresses, that no one is commenting on company computers.

    At home?

    Staff have no need, they comment by name, and understand our policy.

    IP addresses are often the subject of subpoenas in legal cases, often defamation cases, with anonymous posters.

  • Thanks Paula. That makes sense. What you were saying is that you do not know they are not commenting but are putting faith in them and taking their word for it. I could see where an ip could be drawn into court cases by way of subpoena. Thanks again for the clarification.

    -- Posted by deweyh on Wed, Oct 10, 2012, at 2:18 PM
  • Paula - It was my understanding, and you are clearly more of an expert on the subject than any of us, that most major newspapers have separate news staff (objective) and editorial staff (subjective). At those papers rarely the two intersect.

    I understand that as a smaller newspaper there may necessarily be some overlap, but I think you can also understand that having the same person present one piece as objective news and another as politically-based opinon can be confusing at best.

    -- Posted by Sony on Wed, Oct 10, 2012, at 3:13 PM
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