After Bob Vander Plaats succeeded in ousting three Iowa Supreme Court justices through retention votes following the Court’s unanimous decision in favor of legalizing gay marriage, he pledged to drive out the remaining four judges if they did not resign. He has now announced a bus tour throughout Iowa’s 99 counties to push for the removal of the other members of the Court over their 2009 ruling.
Vander Plaats, the head of The Family Leader, has emerged as the state’s most influential Religious Right activist despite losing the 2010 Republican primary for governor. His effort to remove the three Justices last election was backed by millions of dollars of spending from outside groups such as the American Family Association, the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage. A former adviser recently wrote that Vander Plaats is “obsessed with the gay-marriage issue” and “so obsessed that he would rather see the Iowa judicial system destroyed, instead of pursuing a change in the law within the channels provided (a constitutional amendment).”
Lynda Waddington of The Iowa Independent reports that Matt Reisetter, the director of development for The Family Leader, will join Vander Plaats on the bus tour which will visit all of the state’s 99 counties. Waddington points out that Reisetter delivered a controversial anti-gay speech at the University of Northern Iowa deriding hate crimes laws, families with same-sex parents, “civil right status” for same-sex orientation, and that “it’s ironic that one legislative action was intended to decrease smoking to improve public health, while the other legislative inaction was (not) done in the name of ‘equality rights,’ and, at the very least, indirectly promotes unhealthiness, by putting a state-sanctioned blessing on anal sex, a behavior that disproportionately causes AIDS/HIV.”
Since Iowa hosts the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus, his clout will only grow as GOP presidential candidates seek Vander Plaats’s support as he solidifies his position at the top of Iowa’s social conservative movement.