Senate Republicans pass judicial nominating commission changes

DES MOINES — Republicans in the Iowa Senate have voted to change how judges are selected for the Iowa Supreme Court and Iowa Court of Appeals. Senator Julian Garrett, a Republican from Indianola, said Iowa needs a “different kind of judge” on those courts.

“A lot of us have felt that under the current system we have a Supreme Court that’s too much inclined to change the meaning of the Constitution according to the way they think it ought to be rather than according to the intent of the people that wrote it,” Garrett said.

Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, said Republicans are upset by recent court rulings that legalized same-sex marriage and upheld abortion rights.

“Having lost in the Iowa Supreme Court, Senate Republicans now seek to pack the Iowa Supreme Court with their ideological allies,” Quirmback said. “That is what this bill is all about.”

Under this proposal, the governor and legislative leaders would name members of the commission that comes up with a slate of nominees for openings on Iowa’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. It removes the role of lawyers in electing other lawyers to the commission.

A similar proposal is eligible for debate in the Iowa House. Republicans in the Senate and the House, though, have scaled back their initial plans and are keeping the system of lawyers electing other lawyers to the Judicial Nominating Commissions for district court judges.


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