News & Press: The Iowa State Bar Association News

Legislators propose overhaul of Judicial Merit Selection

Thursday, February 7, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Zach Zuber
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On Monday, companion bills were filed in the Iowa House and Senate that change the membership and procedures of the state and district judicial nominating commissions, as well as some of the qualification requirements for applicant judges. You can read more in this article in Monday's Des Moines Register.

• Iowa attorneys would no longer elect half of the judicial nominating commissioners. Instead, the top two leadership positions in the House and Senate (House Speaker, House Minority Leader, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader) would make the selections.
• The Governor would choose the other eight members, at least half of whom would have to be attorneys.
• These picks are not subject to Senate confirmation.
• The Governor would select the commission's chair instead of the senior judge serving as chair, as is the case now.
• This bill opens up the possibility for attorneys to apply for a judicial vacancy anywhere in the state. They would no longer have to reside in the district before they apply, as is law now.

The ISBA is opposed to any efforts to infuse partisan politics into the judicial nominating process and has registered in opposition to this bill. It is what a bipartisan legislature and Iowa voters sought to avoid 56 years ago when the Iowa Constitution was amended to adopt merit selection. ISBA President Tom Levis writes about his concerns in his February President's Letter in The Iowa Lawyer magazine. Please consider reaching out to your lawmakers to urge them to oppose these bills.

From the Iowa Lawyer Weekly