April 13, 2009

I still like the Iowa Supreme Court

In Iowa, as in California but not Massachusetts, Supreme Court justices face retention elections periodically - every 8 years in Iowa, every 12 years in California. This means that a justice who supported Varnum v. Brien, the same-sex marriage decision, is taking some actual risk that there will be an organized campaign to boot him or her. Per Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, support for same-sex marriage is increasing about 2 points a year. Nate's model claims that Iowans will vote for same-sex marriage in 2013. (Electoral outcomes would presumably be more positive for "a justice who supports same-sex marriage among other qualities" than "same-sex marriage," but if you know something about public opinion that contradicts this, you should feel free to jump in.) You might thus predict that the further away a justice's retention election, the easier it would be for that justice to support Varnum v. Brien. In fact, of the seven justices who unanimously voted for the decision, three have retention elections in 2010, including one who was only appointed in 2008. That suggests they were willing to risk their own positions on the court for same-sex marriage, which I just find very endearing. And brave.


Frank said...

You know who's not endearing, or brave? Maureen Dowd. (News flash, right?) Did you see her Sunday column?

Maybe her writing a condescending article about Iowa being maybe-not-as-backwards-and-conservative-as-we-all-thought with a San Francisco dateline was supposed to be ironic and pomo and witty, but it came out as...even more stupid. Especially for someone whom I know was here for the caucuses - yes, Maureen, Iowans are not in fact a bunch of close-minded hicks who fear the unknown.

I normally wouldn't mind except she's so assiduously marked her territory in a nice Pulitzer Prize-shaped circle around gender, sexuality, relationships, marriage, etc. And, as I said, she was here for the caucuses.

What a turd.

North said...

Yeah, that's a real shocker, especially after the incredible gay-baiting that accompanied her every mention of John Edwards. (Seriously, calling him the Breck Girl?)

My favorite part of the Dowd column is the mention of goats. I mean really, talk about not even getting your stereotypes right. Par for the course, with her.