AP: "Vote on Iowa Justice ... Seen As Barometer"


The AP:

Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins isn't well known outside the legal community of his state, and even inside that group, isn't particularly popular.

But the question of whether he should keep his job has become one of the most fiercely contested judicial issues on the Nov. 6 ballot because of what he symbolizes in the debate over gay marriage and the role of courts.

Three years ago, Wiggins and his six colleagues ruled that the state's law banning gay marriage was unconstitutional, which made Iowa the third state to recognize same-sex unions and the first outside the coasts. The decision triggered a furor among conservatives, who mounted an aggressive campaign a year later to defeat three of the justices whose terms came up for ballot review.

Now, the future of Wiggins, whose term comes up this year, is sparking an even bigger battle as liberal groups and lawyers shocked by the outcome in 2010 fight back on his behalf.

... The opposing sides have launched "Vote Yes" and "No Wiggins" campaigns and are spending heavily to get their messages out. The National Organization for Marriage provided $100,000 for an anti-Wiggins television ad this week and conservative stars Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal led a cross-state bus tour denouncing Wiggins as a liberal judicial activist.

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