# Marsha Ternus

The Tom and Ruth Harkin Center: It's official

Julie Gammack first published this piece on her Substack, Julie Gammack’s Iowa Potluck.

No, it’s not just another new building. It is a liberation movement.

Usually, a dedication to a new building isn’t big news except for those with a personal stake in the construction. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies are pro forma events that give those involved a deserved acknowledgment. Funders show up to congratulate one another.

Last Saturday, August 20, was all of that, but oh, so, much more.

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Susan Christensen is least experienced Iowa chief justice in decades

Less than nineteen months after being appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court, Susan Christensen is now that body’s chief justice. Justice David Wiggins had served as acting leader on the high court since the unexpected passing of Chief Justice Mark Cady in November.

When Governor Kim Reynolds, Republican lawmakers, and one or more Supreme Court justices schemed last year to end Cady’s term early, Justice Thomas Waterman was widely seen as the chief-in-waiting. However, by the time Reynolds appointed Cady’s replacement, Dana Oxley, in late January, multiple sources indicated Waterman was no longer interested in the job. The seven justices elected Christensen on February 24.

It’s been many years since a justice has risen so quickly to the Iowa Supreme Court’s most senior position.

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Smooth sailing for Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention in 2016

Three of the seven Iowa Supreme Court justices who concurred in the historic Varnum v Brien ruling on marriage equality lost their jobs in the 2010 judicial retention elections. A fourth survived a similar campaign against retaining him in 2012.

The last three Varnum justices, including the author of the unanimous opinion striking down our state’s Defense of Marriage Act, will appear on Iowa ballots this November. At this writing, no one seems to be organizing any effort to vote them off the bench. Iowa’s anti-retention campaigns in 2010 and 2012 were well under way by the end of August, but the social conservatives who spearheaded those efforts have shown no interest in repeating the experience.

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Tom Harkin's legacy: links and discussion thread

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin's been giving a lot of interviews lately as he wraps up a 40-year career in Congress this month. I've posted some of the newsworthy excerpts after the jump, along with the full text of Senator Chuck Grassley's widely-praised tribute to his colleague on the Senate floor.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. UPDATE: James Q. Lynch's feature for the Cedar Rapids Gazette on "The Harkin Legacy" is a good read.  

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Where are they now? Marsha Ternus edition

Catching up on news from last week, former Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus will serve as director of the new Tom Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University in Des Moines. The Harkin Institute was originally established at Iowa State University, the senator's alma mater, but that arrangement fell apart earlier this year. Harkin confirmed in June that he planned to donate his papers to Drake.

In one of the most disappointing election results of my lifetime, a majority of Iowans voted against retaining Ternus and two of her fellow Supreme Court justices in November 2010. She had served on the court for 17 years, the last four as chief justice. Ternus had a "major positive impact" on the justice system during her tenure. Governor Terry Branstad appointed Ternus to the high court but said nothing in her defense as social conservatives trashed her alleged "activism" during the anti-retention campaign.

After the jump I've posted Drake University's announcement of the Ternus appointment as well as her official bio.  

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