Event Title

The Policiticization of Judicial Elections and its Effect on Judicial Independence and LGBT Rights

Document Type





In the November 2010 elections, three sitting Iowa Supreme Court justices were ousted as a result of the court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v. Brien. The Varnum decision struck down, on equal protection grounds, a state statute limiting marriage rights to a union between a man and a woman. The conference seeks to examine the effect the ouster may have on judicial independence as well as its effect on future efforts to challenge, in state courts, laws that prohibit marriage for same-sex couples and to advance other civil rights for LGBT persons through state court litigation. More specifically, the conference will address the importance of an independent judiciary and whether that independence might be undermined by judicial elections that are highly politicized due to one or more socially contentious issues the court recently has,or will in the near future, resolve.