Iowa: Plan to give governor near-total control of judicial nominating commissions & removing attorneys as voting members clears Senate subcommittee

A plan to give Iowa governors near-total control of the state’s main judicial nominating commissions (State Nominating Commission for appellate courts & District Nominating Commissions for District Court judges) cleared its first legislative hurdle.

SF 327 was approved by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on March 1. The bill removes all attorney-members selected by attorneys in the state (or judicial district), save for one non-voting advisory member.

Instead, the governor would be allowed to appoint effectively all voting members of the commissions. The judge-member would continue to serve as chair only be allowed to vote in case of a tie.

Proponents have argued for the need to remove lawyers as having too much sway over the non-attorney members of the commissions.

SF 327 is just one of several efforts filed this year to curtail or end the state’s merit/commission based system of judicial selection.

The bill now goes to the full Senate Judiciary Committee.