My article in the Prospect's October issue is up at the homepage. It's a long feature, but here's a quick version: After the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2009, social conservatives at the local and national levels joined forces to attack the court. They used a once-obscure procedure of judicial selection to kick three judges off the bench, though the ruling on marriage still stands as law.
The Iowa Supreme Court publishes, on average, a little more than 100 decisions a year. Each ruling goes online first thing Friday mornings. When Varnum v. Brien went live at 8:15 A.M. April 3, 2009, the court's website crashed when more than a million visitors tried to read the opinion. In a unanimous decision, the seven supreme court justices--five Democratic and two Republican appointees--had ruled that Iowa's ban on marriage for same-sex couples violated the equal-protection clause of the state constitution. When county clerks began issuing marriage licenses three weeks later, Iowa became the third state with legalized same-sex marriage.
While Obama's jobs proposal and the Super Committee have dominated Beltway chatter this week, the more urgent issue of the moment is the looming threat of a government shutdown. Here's where things stand:
(AP Images) GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry at the MSNBC GOP Presidential Candidates Debate
With the specter of Ronald Reagan -- or at least the looming presence of his old airplane -- as the backdrop, the Republican presidential candidates met in California last night for a debate cohosted by NBC News and Politico. It was the fourth of this campaign, but the first to include all the major candidates; Texas Governor Rick Perry, the current frontrunner in national polls, took to the stage for the first time, and whereas past debates had largely showed the degree to which the candidates agreed with each other, last night they began -- finally -- to attack each other on policy.