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DES MOINES — Wanted: applicants for a vacancy on the Iowa Supreme Court.

The 17-member State Judicial Nominating Commission, which is responsible for selecting nominees for appointment to the state’s highest court, announced Wednesday it will begin accepting applications for the vacancy on the court created when Chief Justice Mark Cady died Nov. 15.

By law, the commission received notice of the vacancy from Gov. Kim Reynolds last Wednesday. The commission has 60 days to send a slate of three nominees to the governor, who will appoint the new justice.

Cady ceremony

Marsha Ternus, a former Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice, speaks at a public ceremony honoring Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady at Drake University in Des Moines on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. Cady passed died on Nov. 15 at the age of 66. 

Applicants must be a resident of Iowa, licensed to practice law in Iowa and must be of such age that he or she will be able to serve an initial and one regular term of office before reaching the age of 72, the mandatory retirement age.

The deadline for applications to be received by the commission and the commissioners to be considered for balloting is 11:59 p.m. Dec. 23.

Any citizen may submit applications to the commission’s secretary or to any commissioner via email at the email addresses listed on the State Judicial Nominating Commission website at https://www.iowajnc.gov/state-commission.

For comments regarding an applicant to be considered by the commission, communications from the public must be received by the commissioners via email by 11:59 p.m. Jan. 4.

Applications can be obtained on the State Judicial Nominating Commission website or from the State Court Administrator at 1111 E. Court Ave., Des Moines.

Once the deadline for applications has passed, the commission will release the names of all candidates along with information about each applicant’s background, experience and qualifications.

The nominating commission will interview applicants Jan. 8 to 9 in the Supreme Court courtroom. The interviews are open to the public and will be livestreamed and archived on the Iowa Judicial Branch YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL6EU7W8kqDKnKPUzMdxr_g

Commissioners will select three nominees to submit to the governor for appointment.

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The 17-member nominating commission has eight commissioners elected by lawyers licensed to practice law in Iowa and nine commissioners appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate.

After the GOP-controlled Iowa Legislature this year approved changes in Iowa’s 57-year-old judicial nominating procedure, Democratic lawmakers and others challenged changes made last session that allow the governor more control over judicial nominations, asking the state Court of Appeals to stop those changes until weighing the merits of their cases. A hearing is slated next month.

In the challenges to Senate File 638, the plaintiffs said the Legislature violated rules against “logrolling” by including unrelated matters in one bill and violated the requirement that the title of a bill contain the subject matter.

They also challenged a change in the law that gives the governor more influence over the selection of justices.

Previously, the judicial nominating commission for statewide appointments had eight members of the bar, eight governor appointees and the senior Supreme Court member.

Lawmakers eliminated the role of the senior justice and gave the governor a ninth appointee, giving the governor a majority on the commission.

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