David Wiggins, the acting chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, announced his retirement on Friday. According to a statement posted on the court’s website, Wiggins will step down on March 13. His current term was scheduled to expire in December.
Wiggins has been acting chief justice since the death of Chief Justice Mark Cady in November. The brief statement from the court did not give any reason for Wiggins’ decision.
Wiggins was appointed to the court in 2003 by Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat. His replacement, of course, will be nominated by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. It will be Reynolds’ fourth appointment to the court, meaning that she will have appointed the majority of the court’s seven justices.
During an appearance before a conservative Christian gathering in July, Reynolds boasted that “the tide is turning in Iowa’s Supreme Court.” She added, “In just two short years, we’ve moved the needle from left to right.”
Right-wing Christian groups campaigned against Wiggins when he faced his retention election in 2012. The groups were targeting all the justices who had voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage three years earlier, in the case of Varnum v. Brien. The effort failed, and Wiggins won his retention election with 55 percent of the vote.
In other Iowa Supreme Court news this week, the State Judicial Nominating Commission submitted to Gov. Reynolds the names of three candidates to fill Cady’s seat on Thursday. Under state law, the governor has 30 days after receiving the names of the candidates from the committee to select the new justice.