Iowa: Legislative subcommittee moved to overhaul state’s judicial selection system, give governor and legislature power over nominating commissions

A plan to overhaul Iowa’s merit/commission system for the selection of judges cleared its first legislative hurdle this week.

Presently, Iowa’s merit selection commissions are made up of

  • members of the bar “elected by the resident members of the bar” of the state, judicial district, or county
  • non-lawyers appointed by the governor (subject to senate confirmation for the State Nominating Commission) or the local Board of Supervisors
  • a chair who is a judge

HSB 110 and its Senate counterpart SSB 1101 would end the role of the bar and remove the judge as chair. Instead, the governor would effectively maintain his/her picks (but be required to name lawyers among those picks). The remaining seats would go to legislative leaders: speaker of the house, house minority leader, senate majority leader, and senate minority leader.

This is just the latest in a series of bills introduced in the last several years to dilute our outright eliminate the role of the state bar/members of the bar in judicial selection in the state and transfer those seats to the governor and/or legislature (see this from the 2017 iterations).

HSB 110 cleared a House Judiciary Committee on February 6. SSB 1101 remains in subcommittee

Arizona: Proposed constitutional amendment restricts Supreme Court’s rulemaking power, allow legislative control

A constitutional amendment filed in the Arizona House would restrict the rulemaking authority of that state’s supreme court.

Currently the state’s constitution gives the supreme court the

Power to make rules relative to all procedural matters in any court

HCR 2006 as filed would amend this to read

Power to make rules relative to all procedural and evidentiary matters in any court, subject to amendment or repeal by the legislature or the people by initiative or referendum.
Additionally, HCR 2006 would add language to the constitution that seems to target the supreme court.

The supreme court may not infringe on the authority of the legislature or the people to enact otherwise constitutional substantive, procedural and evidentiary laws or to carry out any other matter under the constitution. The authority to enact substantive, procedural and evidentiary laws is not a power inherent in the judiciary but is a legislative power inherent in the legislature and the people.

HCR 2006 is not yet assigned to a committee.

Iowa: Bill to require supermajority of state Supreme Court (5/7) to declare laws unconstitutional advances

A plan discussed here to require the Iowa Supreme Court have a 5/7 supermajority to declare laws unconstitutional cleared a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday.

News reports quote the lead author of SF 2153 as claiming the proposal is not targeting the current court but that “It’s just too much power to give to four judges to make fundamental changes in our law.”

As noted before, there are two states with similar supermajority requirements (Nebraska and North Dakota) but those are due to constitutional provisions, not statutes.

SF 2153 now goes to the full Senate Judiciary Committee.