State Judicial Building

A female justice is likely to join the all-male Iowa Supreme Court.

One of the Iowa Supreme Court justices is retiring in September. The Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission has submitted the names of three women to Governor Reynolds for the opening.

The commission met this week to interview 21 applicants for the post. Late Wednesday, the group submitted its slate of finalists to the governor. They are Susan Christensen of Harlan, who is a district court judge; Terri Combs, an attorney from West Des Moines and District Court Judge Kellyann Lekar of Waterloo.

While two women have previusly served on the state’s highest court, the only state supreme court in the country right now that is entirely made up of men is Iowa’s.

Iowa has a merit-based system for selecting judges. The Judicial Nominating Commission reviews the resumes and comes up with a slate of candidates for each opening. Iowa governors have the option of rejecting the slate of names and asking the commission to come up with three more.

Unlike the federal government, the Iowa Senate has no role in confirming judges. Iowa judges, instead, have their names printed on General Election ballot periodically in what are called “retention” elections.