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Former Iowa Supreme Court justice has no regrets about controversial ruling

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More than 100 USD students came to hear former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Michael Streit share his story. More than 100 USD students came to hear former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Michael Streit share his story.
VERMILLION, SD (KTIV) -

It outraged some, and was celebrated by others. A 2009 decision by the Iowa Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in the Hawkeye State.

Voters chose not to retain three of the justices who ruled on the case. One of them shared his side of the story with University of South Dakota law students. More than two years after being ousted by voters, former Iowa Supreme Court justice Michael Streit is sharing a message of no regrets.

"To reconsider, I think you'd have to set aside all your political scruples, as to what an honest ruling would be," said Streit.

Streit was one of seven justices whose unanimous decision legalized same sex marriage in the state of Iowa. The backlash cost him his job, but he says it's important to stay above the political fray.

"The message I'm bringing is an independent judiciary, one that can be fair and impartial and judges that won't try to rule according to the expectations of political parties or political pressure," said Streit.

It's a message many of the law students here say they understand.

"They can make the right choices, they can make the hard choices and don't have to be like a member of the House of Representatives and be up for election," said Joseph Wiltse, a law student.

Streit told the crowd of more than 100 he's happy with the direction the court is headed now. Justice David Wiggins was retained by voters in 2012, despite heavy campaigning to remove him from that post.

"I think the voters of Iowa became much more educated, much more aware, and they turned out and retained Justice Wiggins," said Streit.

That's the direction Streit hopes the court continues to follow.

Streit now does a lot of mediation cases and is an instructor at Drake University in Des Moines.

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