Judicial reform bill

State Senator Julian Garrett

State Senator Julian Garrett

I am chairing the Senate subcommittee that is handling the Judicial Reform Bill, that reforms the way our judges are selected here in Iowa. Our subcommittee has approved the bill and it now goes on to the full Judiciary Committee. A House subcommittee has also approved the bill in the house. I will be the floor manager for the bill as it proceeds through the Judiciary Committee and to debate on the Senate floor.

Currently we have a State Judicial Nominating Commission and a District Nominating Commission. The job of the commissions is to recommend applicants for the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals, in the case of the State Nominating Commission, and the district courts in the case of the District Nomination Commission. The state Commission recommends three applicants to the governor for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, when there are vacancies. The governor must pick one of the three. At the District Court level the Commission recommends two applicants and the governor must pick one of the two.

The Governor appoints half of the members of each Commission and Iowa licensed attorneys elect the other half. In addition a judge is the chair of each Commission with a vote. Our bill would change that. It would remove the members elected by the bar.

The current bill substitutes Commission members selected by the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader and the Senate Majority Leader and the Senate Minority Leader for the members previously elected by Iowa attorneys. The governor would appoint the Commission chairs from among the members of the Commissions. We are listening to comments by many people, and we continue with discussions with members of the House and the Governor’s office.

Right to abortion amendment

The Senate is proceeding with a resolution proposing a Constitutional Amendment stating that there is no right to an abortion in the Iowa Constitution. The term abortion does not appear in the Iowa Constitution, but the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that there is a right to an abortion in our Constitution. The purpose of the amendment is to make very clear that there is no such right in the Iowa Constitution. If the amendment is approved in the current session, it would have to be approved again in the 2021-2022 session, and approved by a vote of the people to become a part of our Constitution.

As always please feel free to contact me with your ideas or concerns.

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