Gov. Kim Reynolds appoints West Des Moines lawyer to Iowa Supreme Court

He has ties to GOP, represented state in collective bargaining lawsuit

Lawyer Matthew McDermott speaks to the Iowa Supreme Court in December 2018 as the justices hear arguments in two challen
Lawyer Matthew McDermott speaks to the Iowa Supreme Court in December 2018 as the justices hear arguments in two challenges to Iowa’s collective bargaining law change. Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday appointed McDermott, 42, to fill the vacacny on the court. (Des Moines Register pool photo via AP)

DES MOINES — Iowa’s Republican governor on Friday appointed a West Des Moines lawyer with longtime ties to the state GOP as the newest Iowa Supreme Court justice.

Gov. Kim Reynolds named Matthew McDermott, 42, to fill the vacancy left when former Justice David Wiggins, a Democratic appointee, retired last month.

McDermott is Reynolds’ fourth appointment to the state Supreme Court.

McDermott was the lead lawyer defending the state in a contentious lawsuit filed by a labor union challenging a 2017 Republican-backed law that significantly reduced Iowa’s public employee collective bargaining rights.

McDermott’s team won the lawsuit and a subsequent appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court, which ruled the law change was constitutional. McDermott also was a lawyer for the Republican Party of Iowa from 2007-12.

McDermott was one of three finalists the State Judicial Nominating Commission sent Reynolds on March 6. The other two were 6th Judicial District Judge Mary Chicchelly of Cedar Rapids and David May of Polk City, who Reynolds appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 2019.

Reynolds, in a statement, said Matthew McDermott is a “talented, smart and astute lawyer with deep Iowa roots.” She said his commitment to the “rule of law” will benefit all Iowans.

McDermott said in a statement he was “deeply honored by this appointment and grateful for the confidence the governor has shown in me.”

Last year, McDermott represented Republican state Rep. Michael Bergan in Iowa House District 55 election contest. Bergan led by nine votes, according to certified results, but 29 valid absentee ballots in Winneshiek County were never counted.

McDermott practices law with Belin McCormick in Des Moines and is board president of Iowa Legal Aid.

He recvied his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa.

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The Associated Press contributed.