# Civil Rights



Joni Ernst chooses right side of history

Iowa’s U.S. Senator Joni Ernst was among twelve Republicans who helped Democrats pass the Respect for Marriage Act on November 29. Her vote reflected both a personal evolution and a smart political calculation.

The bill would repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which banned same-sex marriages when it was enacted in 1996. It would also “require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.” Finally, although the bill would not require states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it would require states to give marriages performed elsewhere “full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Senate rules require at least 60 votes to overcome a filibuster by the minority party, and the vote on final passage was 61-36 (roll call). Iowa’s Senator Chuck Grassley was one of the 36 Republicans who opposed the bill.

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Where was Susie Clark's school?

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

August 24 was the first full day at SCJH—Susan Clark Junior High—and also the first day of the 2022-23 academic year at Muscatine High School, alma mater of Iowa’s first Black high school graduate.

Iowa’s 1857 constitution mandated public education for “all the youths of the State, without distinction of color,” but it took an Iowa Supreme Court ruling more than a decade later to end racial segregation. The 1868 case was named for that Muscatine student: Clark v. Board of School Directors.

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Dueling editors

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

I may have misled regular readers to suppose Muscatine’s early editors and lawmakers were a pretty progressive bunch.

Those anti-slavery and equal-rights figures are indeed appealing historical characters, and I confess I tell less about their opponents, mainly because I’ve learned less.

Alexander Clark’s publicist—my description for editor John Mahin—allied this paper with the Republican party when it emerged in the 1850s. There was almost always a Democratic paper in town, so he faced a procession of partisan competitors over his half-century career.

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The political price of Parvin's petitions

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

Theodore “T.S.” Parvin came to Iowa in 1838 with Robert Lucas, the first territorial governor, and soon settled at Bloomington—future Muscatine—to serve as district prosecutor.

His uncle, John “J.A.” Parvin, arrived less than a year later. Together they started one of the first schools in the territory. Both would achieve life-long reputations as champions of education.

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Dr. Pritchard's "colored" petition

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

Alexander Clark’s daughter entered history in 1867 as the 12-year-old Iowan turned away from her neighborhood school because of skin color. Her father sued Muscatine’s school board and won. In 2019 the modern successors named the Susan Clark Junior High School.

Susan was born December 6, 1854. Her father had been an equal-rights activist all her life.

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Legal analysis: The state's case for reinstating Iowa's abortion ban

Bill from White Plains is an Iowa attorney with a specific interest in constitutional law and civil liberties.

Who’s more important: 51 percent of the populace of Iowa or, Iowa’s Republican-controlled government?

That is the question raised by the motion a partisan think tank filed in Polk County District Court on August 11. The Kirkwood Institute and the Alliance Defending Freedom are representing Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Board of Medicine, after Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller declined to lead the state’s effort to reinstate a near-total abortion ban.

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