Iowa governor gets more power over selection of Supreme Court judges

A legislative change in Iowa's process for selecting Supreme Court judges will put more power in the hands of the governor. SF 638, signed into law in May, alters how the 17-member State Judicial Nominating Commission will be appointed.
The governor now has the authority to choose a majority of commission members, nine of the 17. The remaining eight appointments will come from elections held among the state's lawyers.

Under previous Iowa law, the commission was split evenly — eight gubernatorial appointments and eight elected by the state's lawyers, with a sitting state Supreme Court justice serving as the final member. Iowa's State Judicial Nominating Commission plays a crucial role in who gets selected to the Supreme Court. It selects three potential nominees, with the governor then choosing one individual from that list.

This type of merit-based selection process is used in four other Midwestern states: Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. Iowa is the region's only state where the governor has control over the majority of commission selections. In the Midwest's six other states, voters fill vacancies on the supreme court via elections (either statewide or, in the case of Illinois, by judicial district).
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Stateline Midwest: June/July 20192.58 MB