The senior legal counsel in Republican Governor Kim Reynolds’ office is telling voters the future roster of the Iowa Supreme Court is at stake in the governor’s race.
Sam Langholz cites recent Iowa Supreme Court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage and overturned a mandatory waiting period for abortions — and he suggests the justices Reynolds would pick in the future could steer the court in a more conservative direction.
“Someone who is going to follow the law and not make up the law,” Langholz said today. “Someone who is going to apply statues as they’re written.”
Langholz made his comments during an appearance before the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale. Langholz predicted the next governor could appoint as many as four new justices to the state’s highest court. If Roe v Wade were to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, the legal battle over laws that restrict or forbid abortions would be waged in state courts. Langholz said “cannot over-state enough” how important this election is in determining which governor gets to fill openings in the state court system.
“The Iowa courts, although they don’t get as much attention as the federal courts, are just as important to our life and to the issues that we all care about,” Langholz said.
Iowa governors make appointments to the court from a slate of candidates they get from the state’s judicial nominating commission. Earlier this year, Reynolds appointed her father to the commission.
Four of the court’s seven current justices were appointed by Republican governors. Current Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady was appointed to the court by Republican Governor Terry Branstad in 1998. Two other members of the court were Branstad appointees in 2011. Reynolds appointed a new justice to the court this summer.
The other three justices were appointed to the court by Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack.
(By Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)