There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court lately. Conservatives currently control a 5-4 majority on the nation’s highest court, and now there’s serious speculation circling throughout the mainstream media that at least 2 liberal Justices may retire in the near future.
Democrats are freaking out that President Donald Trump could add more conservatives to the Court given two of the most liberal Justices — Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer — could step down soon because they are “aging” and have “serious health issues.”
But that’s not what people are talking about this week.
Mark Cady, the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court who wrote key decisions on gay marriage and abortion access that frustrated conservatives, died at the age of 66.
Cady died unexpectedly Friday night from a heart attack.
“Tonight, the state lost a great man, husband, father, grandfather, and jurist,” the family said in a statement posted on the court’s website, according to the Stamford Advocate.
The Iowa state Supreme Court described him as an exceptional judge who was respected and beloved by his fellow jurists.
“His passing is a great loss to the court and the state he so loyally served,” the court wrote.
Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered on Saturday all flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff and to remain that way until a memorial service is held. She said she was heartbroken to learn of his death.
“He loved the law, the judiciary, and the state we call home. He leaves behind a legacy of service and dedication that we should never forget,” she said.
While many are mourning his death, Cady became a very controversial judge in recent years.
After Republicans took control of the state legislature and governor’s office, Cady became a key swing vote on the court in recent years, particularly when Republicans passed new laws aimed at expanding gun rights, restricting abortion, and barring gay marriage.
Cady wrote the opinion in 2009 that made Iowa the nation’s third state to permit same-sex marriage, which came years before the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down gay marriage bans throughout the country.
The ruling led to a backlash from conservatives, who voted out three of the justices in 2010, though Cady wasn’t up for a retention vote that year.
Last year, Cady led a 5-2 majority of justices who concluded that a law requiring women to wait 72 hours before a doctor could perform an abortion was unconstitutional because “autonomy and dominion over one’s body go to the very heart of what it means to be free.”
The ruling angered conservatives and led to passage of a law this year that gave the governor more control over nominees to put on the courts.
The law also reduced Cady’s eight-year term as chief justice by three years, forcing him to step down as chief in 2021.
Cady sided with the majority in a 4-3 decision three years ago that barred sentences of life without parole for teenagers, finding it cruel and unusual punishment.
And he worked to limit a 2017 law that allowed guns to be carried in courthouses throughout the state.
After issuing an order banning guns from courthouses, he compromised with a revised order allowing county supervisors or other local government officials to file written requests to allow guns in their buildings.