WATERLOO, Iowa - This week's court ruling that overturned California's gay marriage ban shouldn't deter voters from pursuing a similar restriction in Iowa, said Republican lieutenant governor candidate Kim Reynolds on Friday.
Reynolds, a state senator from Osceola, said passing a constitutional ban on gay marriage would be just one step in changing the amount of influence the judicial branch has on legislation. Future steps also may include altering how judges are appointed in the state.
"I don't think we should change direction at all," she said.
Reynolds spoke to about 80 people at the Black Hawk County Republican Women's meeting. Her comments come amid discussion statewide about the effect of court rulings related to same-sex marriage.
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker struck down California's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage earlier this week. Similar to the Iowa ruling, Walker said the ban violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.
The rulings have sparked some in the Hawkeye state - including Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Bob Vander Plaats - to push for the ouster of Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and justices Michael Streit and David Baker, who are all up for retention this fall. Republican gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad recently suggested that the governor's office also should have more influence over judicial nominees.
The anger, Reynolds said, stems from voters not having a say in the matter.
"Again, you have the elite overturning what the constituents have voted for," she said.
She said opponents of same-sex marriage need to "keep their resolve" and forge ahead with an amendment. Until such votes are held, Iowans should send signals to the bench about their disapproval of such rulings, such as the organized effort against retention, Reynolds said.
But looming larger than the marriage issue for conservatives has been finding ways to curb what they see as the influence of judicial activism following the 2009 Supreme Court ruling that struck down Iowa's gay marriage ban.
Reynolds said she proposed legislation in the Senate that would have given the governor more influence over how judicial nominees are chosen. Currently, the governor has the pick of three candidates chosen by a judicial commission. If he disapproves of all three candidates, the chief justice makes the appointment.
One alternative to that system include changing it to mirror the federal selection process - where the president appoints and Senate confirms a judge. Another would allow the governor to reject all candidates and have the commission find three new people, Reynolds said.
"There's a lot of different ways we can take a look at changing that," she said.