"Former Iowa Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and former justices David Baker and Michael Streit 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," the JFK Library said in a press release.
The justices were the first to be ousted in Iowa since the state instituted its system of judicial appointment and retention in 1962. They were voted out of office in November 2010, after a campaign by groups like the National Organization for Marriage, the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, who strongly opposed the same-sex marriage ruling. The groups spent more than $700,000 on a campaign to convince voters to kick the judges out -- a campaign which included a statewide "Judge Bus" tour, radio ads, TV ads, text messages and polling.
"The three judges are interesting and courageous on many levels," Kennedy told The Associated Press. "... Like many of the people who get this award, they don't consider that they are doing anything particularly courageous, they just feel they're doing what's right, they're doing their job."
Also receiving an award today is Robert Ford, U.S. Ambassador to Syria.