Editorial: Judge system OK in IowaTerry Branstad, who served as Iowa’s governor from 1983 to 1999, is once again a candidate for that office, and he made news last week by suggesting replacement of the state’s judicial selection system.
By: Daily Globe, Worthington Daily Globe
Terry Branstad, who served as Iowa’s governor from 1983 to 1999, is once again a candidate for that office, and he made news last week by suggesting replacement of the state’s judicial selection system.
Under Branstad’s proposal, Iowa’s chief executive would make independent selections — like the U.S. President does — which would then go to the state’s Senate for approval, according to a Sioux City Journal report Saturday. But while Branstad’s suggestion may sound logical, the fact is there’s little wrong with what’s now in place.
Currently, explained the Journal’s report, the state Judicial Nominating Commission is made up in equal parts by gubernatorial appointments and attorneys who seek election to the panel, whose members are “balanced by geography and gender.” The commission, in turn, submits names of candidates for judicial openings, and the final choices are made by the governor. The report added that “the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had rated the fifth-best legal climate in the nation and fourth for fairness and impartiality of judges.”
It doesn’t take significant knowledge of current events to see what’s wrong with a system like the one Branstad is proposing. Nomination of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito (by George W. Bush) and Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (by Barack Obama) have been highly charged, partisan affairs. Iowa’s current model nullifies much of that.
It appears Branstad is interested in firing up conservative voters by raising judiciary concerns. But changing the system would be counter-productive at best.