Justice Not Politics Responds to Judicial Nominating Commission Appointment

Des Moines, IA — This week, Governor Branstad announced several appointments to district judicial nominating commissions across the state. One of the appointments (Betty De Boef of What Cheer) is very troubling, and Iowans need an explanation from the Governor. See the statement from Justice Not Politics chair, Connie Ryan Terrell below:

“The appointment of Betty De Boef to a district judicial nominating commission is inappropriate. In 2011, then-State Representative De Boef helped facilitate an unprecedented attack on the courts when she filed articles of impeachment against four Supreme Court Justices for taking part in the Varnum v. Brien decision. Of all the Iowans available in this district, why did the Governor choose one of the most hostile, anti-judge activists in the state? Governor Branstad owes Iowans an explanation.

“The purpose of the judicial nominating commission is to select nominees to become a judge. A position on the Commission should not be entrusted to activists who will likely pursue a political agenda. It appears that the Governor is playing to the most extreme anti-judge elements of his political party. That violates the spirit of Iowa’s Constitution, which expressly forbids consideration of political affiliation when choosing commissioners. Furthermore, it threatens the integrity of the Commission.”

Justice Not Politics is a nonpartisan coalition of organizations and Iowans across the political spectrum, all who are committed to protecting Iowa’s courts and our system of merit selection and retention. JNP works through the power of a coalition, effectively demonstrating the importance of impartial courts in all areas of life and the broad support of Iowans in protecting our judicial system. For more information, visit justicenotpolitics.org.

 

BACKGROUND
Iowa has two levels of judicial nominating commissions. The highest level chooses appellate court judges. Here, one state judicial nominating commission sends a slate of three judicial nominees to the Governor whenever there is an opening for judge on the Iowa Court of Appeals or Iowa Supreme Court. The lower level chooses district court judges. Iowa’s district courts are separated into 14 judicial subdistricts, each with its own district judicial nominating commission. Here, each district judicial nominating commission sends a slate of two judicial nominees to the Governor whenever there is an opening for judge in the district court it presides over. From these slates of judicial nominees the Governor chooses the most qualified candidate and Iowans have the final say with the retention vote.

The Governor hand picks the non-lawyer members of the judicial nominating commissions at both levels, though appointees to the state commission must be approved by the Iowa Senate. These appointees make up half of the committee members. The terms of these commissioners are staggered so that one-third of the commissioners are turned over every two years. In this current round the Governor appointed a total of 17 commissioners. Their terms began February 1, 2014 and will last until January 31, 2020. The position filled by Betty De Boef is on the district judicial nominating commission in judicial subdistrict 8A, which covers the southeastern Iowa counties of: Appanoose, Davis, Jefferson, Keokuk, Mahaska, Monroe, Poweshiek, Van Buren, Wapello and Washington. You can see the full list of the Governor’s appointments here.

For more judicial facts, please visit the Know Your Courts page:

www.justicenotpolitics.org/knowyourcourts