Really Bad Idea: Changing Iowa’s Judicial Nominating System

keep iowa courts fair

If you ever get in a situation where you are headed to court or there is an issue that affects you greatly being heard in court, the only thing most of us hope for is impartiality on the part of the judges in the case. Impartiality is one of the ideals of our society. Judges who rule on the merits of the case versus the law or constitution, not judges who rule based on their own prejudices.

That’s what most of us want. That’s what our ideals are. But right now there are a group of radicals in charge of our state government. Because of Iowa’s tradition of trying to bake impartiality into our court system, some cases were decided in ways that this radical group didn’t like. So they are now set on changing the whole system to get more favorable rulings from Iowa’s courts. Tilting the playing field in their favor or rigging the system is what these tactics are usually called.

We like to think such tactics are hallmarks of a bygone age that we have long since left in the past. However nothing ever really goes away unless we guard against it. We have let our guard down and some of the worst of bygone eras are returning to haunt us. This includes the racism and huge inequality that wreacked so much havoc previously. 

The radical group is a group that our media works tirelessly to normalize, but most people are finally catching on. They are the Republican Party. When they do not get their way, they will lie and cheat to rig the system in their favor. We have seen it in voter suppression laws, labor repression laws and many other ways. 

Now here in Iowa, because of some court decisions they didn’t like Republicans have decided to redo our court selection process to rig to in their favor so that decisions like Varnum v. Brien will not happen again in Iowa.

It is an insane approach to a problem that doesn’t exist. As I stated earlier, if YOU get into court YOU truly want an impartial judge as our ideals promise. 

Let’s hear from a person – state Senator Zach Wahls – whose life was greatly affected by a court decision and just how important impartiality is:

Now let’s look at some words that Senator Wahls wrote concerning this subject when the radical Republicans sprung judicial “reform” on Iowa without any warning:

Following a discussion of our current system and the proposed changes, Senator Wahls writes:

“Changing our judicial nominating process was not a campaign issue in 2018. Neither candidate for governor campaigned on this issue, I did not campaign on this issue, and I am not aware of any other state legislative candidate who campaigned on this issue.

Republicans are proposing these changes simply because they are unhappy with past court decisions and they are hoping to control future decisions. This is the equivalent of saying “Because our team won, we are going to change the rules of the game.”

The final critical point to understand is that this change will open Pandora’s box and it will be nearly impossible to close. If Republicans ram these changes through on a party-line vote and begin to pack the court with their political preferences, when Democrats are back in the majority, we will almost certainly appoint our own judges in order to off-set changes made by Republicans.

The tit-for-tat will escalate, and just like that, we’ll have the presence of overt partisan politics in our courts.

This is why I am so concerned about these changes, it’s why I’m worried that they are being rushed through without meaningful citizen input, and I don’t think we’ve given this nearly enough thought. Any changes to our court system should be deliberate, carefully considered, and bipartisan. The proposed changes are none of those things.”

Senator Wahls warning is right on the money.

Changes to a well functioning system are being done to rig the system in the favor of current radical Republican thinking. These changes may well come back to haunt them.  Much better to stick with a system that has worked for nearly 6 decades under Democrats and Republicans as well.

You can let you legislator know by phone:

Senate Swichboard:  515.281.3371

House Swichboard:   515.281.3221

You can identify your legislator by entering your address on this page. https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find  Then send them an email to let them know this is a bad idea.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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