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Majority of Iowa Supreme Court Applicants Are Women

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John Pemble/IPR file photo
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Iowa Public Radio
There are fifteen women among the 22 applicants to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court

Twenty-two Iowans have applied to become the state’s newest Supreme Court justice.

The State Judicial Nominating Commission will interview applicants July 9 to start the process of choosing a replacement for Justice Bruce Zager. He is retiring effective Sept. 3.

This is the first Iowa Supreme Court vacancy since 2011. Some court watchers see it as an opportunity to diversify the state’s highest court because all seven justices are currently white men.

Fifteen of the 22 applicants for the Iowa Supreme Court vacancy are women. There have been two women on the court in the state’s history.

According to data from the Iowa Judicial Branch, 12 women applied for three Supreme Court seats in 2011, three women applied for one vacancy in 2008, and six women applied for an open seat in 2006.

After interviews, the nominating commission will select three nominees. There has never been more than one woman chosen as a nominee for a vacancy.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds will then have 30 days to appoint a new Iowa Supreme Court justice.

On Wednesday, after the names of the applicants for the Iowa Supreme Court vacancy were released, news broke of an open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered to be the “swing vote” on the Court, is retiring effective July 31.

Two Iowans are on the list President Donald Trump has said he will use to choose a nominee: Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield and Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Steven Colloton.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said Wednesday the Senate will confirm a new justice this fall, setting the stage for a major political battle ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter