Laura Belin

Hear Chief Justice Mark Cady's passionate appeal to combat implicit bias

Devastating news: Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady passed away on November 15, having suffered a heart attack.

Best known for writing the court’s unanimous opinion in the Varnum v Brien marriage equality case, Cady was a staunch supporter of civil rights. Since becoming chief justice in 2011, he was often the swing vote on Iowa’s high court and concurred in many 4-3 opinions.

Appointed by Governor Terry Branstad in 1998, Cady sometimes aligned with the high court’s conservatives–for instance, on upholding Iowa’s felon disenfranchisement system. Sometimes he joined his more liberal colleagues–for instance, on juvenile sentencing. Cady also authored last year’s opinion that found Iowa’s constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion. Seventeen months later, three of the five justices who joined that landmark ruling are gone. (Justice Bruce Zager retired, and Justice Daryl Hecht died.)

Bleeding Heartland intends to publish several reflections on Cady’s legacy in the coming weeks. For now, I want to share the chief justice’s remarks at the recent Iowa Summit on Justice and Disparities.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Tall coreopsis

Snow and freezing temperatures arrived early in Iowa this year, but I’m not ready to put Bleeding Heartland’s wildflower series to bed for the winter yet.

The bitter cold inspired me to pull out some summertime pictures for this week’s edition. I took all of the photographs enclosed below in the parking lot of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden in late August. Some wonderful prairie plantings are in front of the main building and along the nearby bike trail.

Tall coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris), sometimes known as tall tickseed, is native to most of the U.S. and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. UPDATE: Bleeding Heartland user PrairieFan notes in the comments that “tall coreopsis is native to the southern half of Iowa, but not the northern half.”

It can grow in many types of habitats, from disturbed ground to high-quality prairies. The Missouri Botanical Garden’s website advises that tall coreopsis is easy to grow “in dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun,” and “Thrives in poor, sandy or rocky soils with good drainage.”

According to Aaron Harpold, assistant director of horticulture for the botanical garden, the plants I photographed were a cultivar, not grown from seed collected in the wild. For any interested gardeners, the specific type is Coreopsis tripteris ‘Flower Tower.’

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A few thoughts on campaign donations and Iowa caucus endorsements

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy resigned as state political director for Tom Steyer’s presidential campaign on November 8, a day after Alexandra Jaffe reported for the Associated Press that Murphy “privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the conversations.”

Among politically active Iowans, reaction to Jaffe’s scoop ranged from anger to disappointment to a shrug: “Isn’t this long accepted practice?”

No. While presidential hopefuls and their affiliated committees have often donated to Democratic candidates and party organizations, hoping for future support, it is rare for anyone to dangle a possible donation in exchange for an endorsement.

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