The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal Iowa conservatives filed that challenged the way Iowa judges are chosen. A lawsuit filed by a group of Iowa conservatives questioned the make-up of the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission and suggested the state’s lawyers have too much influence on the panel.
The Judicial Nominating Commission has 15 members. The Iowa State Bar Association elects seven members. Seven others are appointed by the governor and the chair is the longest-serving member of the Iowa Supreme Court.
A lower court ruled the process does not violate the constitution. The commission’s work became controversial after the successful 2010 campaign which saw voters toss three Iowa Supreme Court justices off the bench, and the commission convened to select nine people as possible replacements.
The Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission selects three nominees for each opening in Iowa’s district courts as well as on the Iowa Supreme Court and the Iowa Court of Appeals. The governor then chooses from those three nominees.
The process was set up in 1962, when voters approved a so-called “merit” system for selecting judges in Iowa