A justice like Cady

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady of Fort Dodge held the respect of his peers, the lawyers who argued before him and Republican and Democratic politicians for being a jurist of intellect, moderation, inclusiveness and faithfulness to the law. 

Nowhere was this more evident in the opinion he wrote for the court’s majority that held homosexuals cannot be discriminated against as a class. That 2009 decision allowed gay marriage in Iowa.

The opinion was faithful to the state and federal constitutions, stood up for minority rights, and was a courageous ruling in that it inveighed against the politics of the moment. 

As a result, three justices lost their retention elections in 2010 when homophobic interests posing as Christians waged a campaign against them.

It was a courageous decision but there really was no other answer if you believe discrimination is unconstitutional.

Cady was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad. He was praised by Justice Edward Mansfield, a conservative, for helping him get to the court and for helping him adjust to the high court. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds praised Cady following his surprising death last weekend at age 66.

“He loved the law, the judiciary and the state we call home,” Reynolds said. “He leaves behind a legacy of service and dedication that we should never forget.”

That should be the standard Reynolds uses to appoint a successor: someone who loves the law and applies it without fear or favor to anyone or any political interest. Someone who is moderate and takes in all points of view in a complicated legal debate.

The Iowa Supreme Court should be above politics. But too often the courts are viewed as a vehicle to advance a political agenda rather than sorting out legal differences and arriving at the truth.

She should look for someone with Cady’s humility and resolve to serve the people — all the people — by applying the law blind to political or economic interests. 

Cady was not a liberal or a conservative. He was a judge.

The chief justice’s legacy should be the governor’s guide. She can demonstrate that her fealty is to the law like Mark Cady’s was, and that she is a governor more interested in serving the Iowa Constitution than any party or cause — unless the cause is blind justice.


Pete rides the wave

Pete Buttigieg’s dramatic rise in the CNN-Des Moines Register Iowa Poll published last weekend to front-runner status — with a 10-percentage point lead over Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden — demonstrates that the Iowa Caucuses are far from settled just a few weeks out.

Those who thought several months ago that Joe Biden had this thing in his back pocket might be surprised to see that he is draining support to the mayor of South Bend, Ind. 

Also, Warren slid six points since the September Iowa Poll, following her full embrace of Medicare for All.

Warren has since tried to say that she will take it slow and easy on a sure path toward universal health care, recognizing that this issue is fraught among Democrats.

Mayor Pete is fresh, smart, candid and campaigns as a pragmatist of hope. 

Buttigieg represents a new generation. He says that it’s not the fight that matters, but what happens after the fight. That settles well with a solid majority of likely caucus-goers who favor incremental approaches to progress over more purportedly radical routes. 

Medicare for All does not poll that well.

Biden and Warren each have had their day in the sun and got scorched. The same is likely to happen as the glare turns to Buttigieg. He will get knocked down some as a former corporate consultant, and what his race relations are like in South Bend. 

And there is Amy Klobuchar waiting in the shadows and moving up in the polls to fifth place. 

Even Buttigieg’s supporters aren’t certain of his electability. Three-fourths of Democrats could switch their support between now and Feb. 3. John Kerry came out of nowhere.

For now, Buttigieg can enjoy the ride. 

But the Sanders people still love Bernie, Warren has a spider web of an organization catching voters all over the state, and Biden is no slouch who remains the most electable, according to the polls. 

Michael Bennett or Tom Steyer could deliver Pete a haymaker out of nowhere. This race is anybody’s going into the final sprint.

Art Cullen is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of The Storm Lake Times.

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