A group that supported retention of the three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were voted off the court last fall is questioning the governor’s latest selection for a panel that nominates district court judges. Connie Ryan Terrell of “Justice Not Politics” says the governor has put someone on the panel who doesn’t support the process the commission follows.
“We would call upon Governor Branstad, really, to reconsider this appointment and appoint someone who really has the best interest of the judicial system in mind,” she says.
Branstad put Des Moines attorney Ryan Koopmans on the Nominating Commission that selects a slate of nominees for district court judges in the Polk County area. The governor then chooses from those nominees. Koopmans, though, favors a different means of selecting judges, one that’s similar to the way presidents pick Supreme Court nominees.
“I think that the governor should appoint — the governor who’s elected by the people,” Koopmans says. “And then the (Iowa) senate should be able to consider that nominee and confirm or not confirm.”
Ryan Terrell of Justice Not Politics says that raises red flags.”We’re concerned that he has another agenda for the commission,” Ryan Terrell says, “whether that plays itself out in who is nominated or just putting politics into the process.”
A spokesman for Branstad says Koopmans is “very well qualified” for the post. And Koopmans says he will “absolutely not” pursue a political agenda through his service on the commission.
“I’d rather have another system, but just because I disagree doesn’t mean I should be excluded,” Koopmans says. “I certainly want to participate and I want to continue to pick the best judges possible.”
Koopmans will help select district court judges for the Polk County District Court. If Koopmans had been nominated to the 15-member commission that selects nominees for the Iowa Court of Appeals and the Iowa Supreme Court, his nomination would have been subject to confirmation by the state senate.