Fort Dodge was literally divided Wednesday.
A line of police tape bisected Fort Dodge City Square, with the north side protesting "activist judges" and the south side supporting Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins.
The No Wiggins Tour stopped in Fort Dodge for a half hour. Iowans for Freedom Chairman Bob Vander Plaats and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal were among the speakers delivering a message: vote no on a Nov. 6 ballot measure for Wiggins to retain his seat.
Pat Stephenson, of Fort Dodge holds her hands together as she listens during a rally on City Square in downtown Fort Dodge against the retention of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins. Joe Jackson, of Fort Dodge, holds his sign in support of retention, at right.
Wiggins is one of seven Iowa justices who, in 2009, unanimously upheld a district court ruling stating Iowa could not deny citizens marriage licenses based on sexual orientation. In 2010, three of those judges were removed from office following judicial retention elections.
"In 2009, seven of the Iowa Supreme Court justices shamelessly abandoned judicial code of conduct in our representative government when they struck Iowa's marriage law that defines marriage between one man and one woman," Kim Lehman, Patriot Voices Iowa State chair, said.
Brian Brown, National Organization for Marriage president, roused the crowd by referring to the 2010 retention elections.
"Are we going to do this again?" he asked, to cheers from the crowd. "Everyone said ... this was impossible, that you wouldn't be able to do what had never been done before. Not just three judges, but not even one judge had been defeated before."
Brown was interrupted briefly by pro-Wiggins supporters, saying, "There's no reason to attempt to shout people down. It's part of our freedom of speech to be able to talk here."
Brown said he has faith that the people of Iowa will "hold these judges accountable."
"Whenever I travel, around the world, there are fights to define the nature of marriage," he said. "Now is your chance to change history again. You have the chance to turn your ballot over, vote no on Wiggins. The world is watching, Iowa."
Next, Tamara Scott, Iowans for Freedom co-chair, spoke about "activist judges" in general.
"Courts are not to move social agenda through that would not otherwise pass through the legislature," she said. "This isn't about one issue. This is about the foundational principles, the constitutional separation of powers."
Scott noted that Wiggins received a 63 percent ratings from the Iowa Bar Association and his peers. She held up a sign that showed, in neon yellow and glitter, the letter grade D-.
"If your kids brought that home, that is a D-minus no matter how you look at it," she said.
Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa For Freedom chairman, followed,
"I find it simply unconscionable that any attorney or anybody at the Iowa State Bar Association would come out advocating to retain a justice that scored a 63 percent or D-minus from his peers," he said.
Vander Plaats said the "final power" does not belong not to the court, but "to the people of this great country."
"We're the final arbitrators," he said. "A court opinion does not change the law. What this court tried to do was legislate from the bench."
Vander Plaats next spoke about "the law of nature."
"The law of nature is God," he said. "No matter how you cut it, any law that is a disconnect from the law of nature, the law of nature is God, that is no law at all. And the law of nature is God, is simply one man, one woman, marriage no matter how you cut it."
Vander Plaats concluded with a warning.
"If the courts will redefine the institution of marriage, they won't even blink an eye when they take your private property or when they take your second amendment rights or your liberty rights," he said.
Speaking last was Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who described Nov. 6 as "the most important election of our lifetime."
Jindal spoke first about President Barack Obama and the three promises he made to the American people and has broken. Several in the crowd shouted, "Wasn't this about Wiggins?"
"This president has been more than the most incompetent president we've had in decades. He's also been the most liberal president we've had in decades," Jindal said. "Literally, this election is about two different visions for America."
Jindal, after six minutes, spoke about the Iowa Supreme Court justices, saying they rely on opinion polls and not the law.
"I thought the court's decision was simply to read the Constitution and apply it fairly," he said. "The reality is, some of these recent decisions by these justices actually make those replacement referees at the NFL look like geniuses by comparison."
Jindal concluded saying it was not the role of a judge to legislate from the bench.
"I don't mind him having liberal views. I don't mind him espousing those views or working for those views, but if he wants to pass laws implementing those views, he needs to run for the legislature, not do so from the Supreme Court," he said. "Our courts don't make laws. They've exceeded their authority."