The chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court will not participate in court deliberations over a lawsuit challenging a new state law that cuts his pay and reduces his term as chief justice.
Chief Justice Mark Cady has rescued himself from hearing the lawsuit that challenge the state law that gave the governor more power in the judicial selection process. The law also changes the way the Iowa Supreme Court’s justices choose their chief justice, requiring a vote for chief justice among the members every two years.The court’s chief justice has traditionally served until he or she retired or was voted out in a retention election.
The lawsuit argues that change violates the separation of powers between the three branches of state government. Cady wrote in the document recusing himself that the case must be resolved in such a way as to ensure public trust in the process — and he’s stepping aside because a reasonable person could conclude he has a personal interest in the case. In addition to limiting his term, the new law cuts his salary by about $8,000.
Cady was appointed to the court by former Governor Terry Branstad. The justices selected Cady as their chief in early 2011 after three justices lost their 2010 retention elections, including the chief justice, Marsha Ternus. The retention election happened after a unanimous 2009 court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. The ruling was unanimous and Cady wrote the opinion.