I urge my fellow Iowans to ask their Iowa House Representatives to oppose the so-called “Judicial Nominating Commission Modernization” bill. Rather than improving our judicial nomination process, this bill would make it more partisan and influenced by special interests rather than experts.
Under current law, the nominating commission consists of a state supreme court justice, eight lawyers, and eight non-lawyers. The non-lawyers are selected by the governor while the lawyers are elected by their peers. This process ensures that half the commissioners are experts while the public will still is represented.
The new system would eliminate Iowa’s lawyers from the committee selection process and replace them legislative leadership, while keeping the number of lawyers on the commission the same. This sounds nice in theory, but it is much easier for special interests to influence the picks of a few legislative leaders than all the state’s lawyers. This would lead to the selection of partisans rather than respected attorneys. Moreover, the bill eliminates Senate oversight of the governor’s picks, leaving her more free to appoint anyone who meets basic requirements rather than having to justify her picks.
Let’s let experts, rather than politicians, decide who picks our judicial nominees.