Three former Iowa Supreme Court Justices who were ousted in 2010 after that court’s unanimous decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the state are being honored today in Boston with the 2012 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
The award is being presented by Caroline Kennedy at a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
“Former Iowa Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and former justices David Baker and Michael Streit were chosen in recognition of the political courage and judicial independence each demonstrated in setting aside popular opinion to uphold the basic freedoms and security guaranteed to all citizens under the Iowa constitution,” the JFK Library said in a press release.
The justices were the first to be ousted in Iowa since the state instituted its system of judicial appointment and retention in 1962. They were voted out of office in November 2010, after a campaign by groups like the National Organization for Marriage, the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, who strongly opposed the same-sex marriage ruling. The groups spent more than $700,000 on a campaign to convince voters to kick the judges out — a campaign which included a statewide “Judge Bus” tour, radio ads, TV ads, text messages and polling.
“The three judges are interesting and courageous on many levels,” Kennedy told The Associated Press. “… Like many of the people who get this award, they don’t consider that they are doing anything particularly courageous, they just feel they’re doing what’s right, they’re doing their job.”
Also receiving an award today is Robert Ford, U.S. Ambassador to Syria.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com