American Judges Association



Mary Celeste

Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 46, Issue 4, page 115


Copyright © 2010 American Judges Association. Used by permission.


The ousting of three Iowa Supreme Court Justices has sent shockwaves throughout the country for all judges, no matter their method of selection and retention. Not only are justices and judges in election states suddenly vulnerable to judicial opponents with large war chests, even those in retention-election states are now vulnerable on issues that may bring players backed by large war chests. Iowa, as a retention-election state, was not alone in encountering organized efforts to remove justices from state supreme courts. Alaska Justice Dana Fabe squeaked by in her retention election despite anti-abortion/pro-traditional-marriage issue opposition; three justices up for retention in Colorado staved off a redistricting-issue opposition; two Florida justices tied to an issue on federal health-care legislation won with the lowest approval rating ever; in Illinois, Justice Kilbride headed off big money, also over a redistricting decision; and four Kansas justices managed to keep their jobs with the assistance of a full-page campaign ad. In both Iowa and Colorado, the justices did not engage in any campaign activity. In Kansas they did. What was the strategy, if any, used in each of these states by these justices, and why? These are the types of questions that will be addressed in an upcoming AJA seminar and workshop.