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Methods of Judicial Selection: Iowa

Judicial Nominating Commissions

The state judicial nominating commission identifies nominees to fill vacancies on the supreme court and court of appeals. The commission consists of fifteen members--a chairperson and one elected and one appointed member from each of the state's congressional districts. (Although there are currently only five congressional districts in Iowa, selection of commission members is based on the seven congressional districts that existed in 1969 when the authorizing legislation was passed.) The chairperson is the senior associate justice of the supreme court. The elected members are chosen by resident members of the bar in each congressional district, and the appointed members are chosen by the governor, subject to senate confirmation. Commission members serve one six-year term. The state judicial nominating commission submits a list of three nominees for each vacancy.

There is a district judicial nominating commission for each of the fourteen judicial election districts. Each district commission consists of eleven members--a chairperson, five members appointed by the governor, and five members elected by the bar. The senior judge in each district serves as chairperson.  Information about district judicial nominating comissions and county magistrate appointing commissions can be found here.  The commissions are governed by Iowa Code sections 46.xx, 602.63xx, 602.64xx,  and 602.65xx.


To ensure gender balance on the state judicial nominating commission, each congressional district must alternate between electing male and female members, and the governor cannot appoint more than four members of the same gender. For each district judicial nominating commission, the bar must alternate between electing male and female members, and the governor may not appoint more than three members of the same gender.

Iowa actively seeks citizen participation in the nominating process by issuing a news release to the media whenever a vacancy occurs. Any citizen may submit to the commission in writing the names of potential judicial candidates, along with his or her opinion of the candidates.

For more information, see Judicial Merit Selection: Current Status.