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UI ECGPS votes to support judicial retention

BY STACEY MURRAY | OCTOBER 10, 2012 6:30 AM

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Not often do elected bodies suggest keeping politics out of elections.

The Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students passed a resolution to support an educational push for students to become aware of and vote for judicial retention based on the Iowa justices’ interpretation of the Constitution and laws — not on the politics behind the decision.

This upcoming election, community members can vote to retain Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins or not.

“What we’re supporting maybe is to embrace a judicial system free of politics,” said Natalie Virden, an executive member of the Executive Council.

After roughly 40 minutes of discussion, the Executive Council passed the resolution with Tiara Perez of the Graduate Student Senate abstaining from the vote.

“I think this should’ve been discussed earlier, not now, close to the elections,” Perez said.
The Executive Council removed language from the original resolution regarding the Justice Not Politics campaign in order to eliminate any political undertones to the resolution.

“We’re not a political body,” said Michael Appel, President of the Executive Council. “We represent all students, and we’re all committed to that duty.”

Yet while the Executive Council doesn’t want to put itself on any side of the political spectrum, the members maintain their importance as leaders of their respective colleges.

“I think as a student government, it’s sometimes important to speak out as our constituents’ leaders and [the Executive Council] hasn’t done this before,” Appel said. “It’s OK for [the council] to take a stance on issues that will affect us, especially in Iowa as Iowans and as students.”

Before the vote, the council members discussed taking their stance as leaders, while some expressed concerns about the undertones of the resolution. Wanakee Carr, a representative from the Carver College of Medicine, asked her fellow peers how bold they wanted to be as leaders.

They responded with an affirmative vote. 

Kimberly Hoppe, while she voted in favor of the resolution, said she didn’t want to take a political side.

“I’m nervous that it could seem political,” she said.

This resolution comes following the Sept. 28 visit from the Iowans for Freedom organization in Iowa City to discuss the upcoming vote on retaining Wiggins.

In 2010, three of the seven justices on the Iowa Supreme Court were not retained following a controversial decision on gay marriage.

But the Executive Council members aren’t concerning themselves with the political issues. 

Graduate College Dean John Keller said voting in a community such as Iowa City is critical to elections.

“One vote does particularly matter in local elections in smaller towns where people have won by a matter of a couple of votes,” he said.

The council wants to educate graduate and professional students on the importance of voting for retention based on the justices’ performance as interpreters of the law — not on the political and legislative affects of the interpretations.

When politics enter the judicial-retention process, it allows for outside sources to aid in judiciary campaigns, taking the power away from Iowans.

“Ultimately, this decisions should be made between the people of Iowa,” said Ben Gillig of the Executive Countil.  “[Politics] could turn retention into re-election.”


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