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In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court made national news for its surprising and unanimous decision in Varnum v. Brien, in which it held that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the state constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Iowa was not the first state to legalize same-sex marriage—Massachusetts came first in 2004, followed by a handful of others in 2008—but it was the first to do so outside of the liberal confines of the Northeast.

Iowa’s high court made headlines again in 2010, when three of the justices who joined the Varnum opinion were recalled from the bench because of the decision. The three included the court’s only woman; all three vacancies were filled by men.



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