State of the Judiciary speeches in Iowa aren't often marked by standing ovations or expressions of stark disapproval. But in the first such speech since Iowa justices were ousted over a gay marriage ruling, Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady said that attacks on judges based on divisive rulings pose a threat to the check-and-balance system that guarantees individual rights and constitutional freedom. Cady repeated arguments that judges serve the law, not political constituents. He promised a new push for openness, given the publicity generated by the court's 2009 decision to allow same-sex marriage and the high-profile campaign that helped remove three of his colleagues.
He said of the gay marriage ruling, “Our court has, many times in the past, decided cases involving civil rights that were quite controversial at the time. Yet, over time, those cases have become a celebrated part of our proud and rich Iowa history of equality for all.” The line drew a standing ovation from the public gallery and roughly half of the chamber. Many Republican legislators and all of the judges in the room stayed seated and did not clap. The speech came two months after voters ousted Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit in a retention vote. The removal was the first since Iowa adopted a commission-based judge selection system in 1962. Cady, now the most senior member of the court, replaced Ternus as chief justice.