Iowa Justice Marsha Ternus to Discuss the Politicization of Justice

February 25, 2013 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Marsha Ternus is the former chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, and was the first woman to preside over it.

After more than 17 years on the high court, Ternus lost her seat in the 2010 retention election, months after she and her six colleagues ruled unanimously to strike down a state statute banning same-sex marriage.

The ruling cost not only Justice Ternus but also two of her colleagues their jobs, and embroiled the court in a political struggle that continued through the 2012 election and beyond.

On Thursday, February 28, Ternus will discuss The Politicization of Justice at Elmhurst College. To preview her lecture, she also is scheduled to appear on Wednesday, February 27, at 7:00 p.m. on the WTTW-Channel 11 television program Chicago Tonight, and will be interviewed live on Thursday, February 28, at  8:50 a.m. on the Chicago Public Radio program The Morning Shift.

Last May, Ternus and her two colleagues were honored with the 2012 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award. In announcing the award, the Kennedy Presidential Library stated that the three justices “were chosen in recognition of the political courage and judicial independence each demonstrated in setting aside popular opinion to uphold the basic freedoms and security guaranteed to all citizens under the Iowa constitution.”

Ternus was appointed to the court in 1993 by Governor Terry Branstad and was selected by her peers to serve as chief justice in 2006. As chief justice, she placed a priority on improving court oversight of child welfare cases and expanding access to the courts. After losing the retention election, Ternus returned to the private practice of law in Des Moines, focusing on appellate and litigation consulting and arbitration.

The Politicization of Justice will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 28, in the Founders Lounge of the Frick Center. Admission is $10 for the general public and free for Elmhurst College students, faculty, staff and alumni. Tickets are available at the door or online. For more information, call (630) 617-3390.

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