Chances Slim for a Woman on the Iowa Supreme Court

After completing 60 interviews of prospective Iowa Supreme Court justices yesterday, the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission deliberated for approximately six hours and came out of deliberations with nine names: Robert Blink, Arthur Gamble, John Gray, Steven Lawyer, Edward Mansfield, Michael Mullins, Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Thomas Waterman, and Bruce Zager. The group includes a slate of well-qualified individuals, including five judges, three practicing attorneys, and one law professor.

The nomination of Ms. Onwuachi-Willig, demographically speaking, is notable: she is the youngest by some eight years, she is apparently the only person of color, and she is the only woman. Her appointment to the court would add otherwise lacking diversity to its members. But there is a snag: she has publicly supported the rights of Iowan gays and lesbians to marry in a brief filed with the court in the Varnum v. Brien case.

Governor Branstad has stated he will consider the nominees based on their legal experience and philosophy and will not ask about specific cases. However, it would be surprising if Branstad, who opposes gay marriage in Iowa, to appoint a justice who he knows would vote to uphold the Varnum v. Brien decision.

Categories: General