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Reynolds Lawyer: Supreme Court Appointments At Stake In Governor’s Race

Joyce Russell/IPR
Sam Langholz, Senior Legal Counsel and special advisor to Gov. Kim Reynolds

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Senior Legal Counsel and special adviser Sam Langholz told a conservative crowd in Urbandale today that the election for governor this year could affect the makeup of the Iowa Supreme Court for decades to come.      

Langholz spoke to about 50 people at a breakfast meeting of the Westside Conservative Club at the Machine Shed restaurant.

He cited recent court decisions that conservatives opposed, and suggested that future appointees could mean different results. 

"I can't overstate how important this election will be for the judiciary." -Senior Legal Counsel Sam Langholz

Those include the Varnum decision legalizing gay marriage, and a recent decision overturning a 72-hour waiting period for abortions.

‘The Iowa courts even though they don't get as much attention as federal courts are just as important to our life and to the issues that we all care about,” Langholz said.  

Langholz predicts the next governor could appoint as many as four new justices to the bench. 

He said it matters who gets picked.  

"Someone who is going to follow the law and not make up the law, someone who is going to apply statutes as they’re written,” Langholz said.  “I can't overstate enough how important this election will be for the judiciary.”

Langholz said the current court has applied an “aggressive” reading of the Iowa constitution, going further than the U.S. constitution.   

He said the 5-2 decision in the abortion waiting period case could have gone the other way.

“Those two justices can make a difference,” Langholz said.   

Langholz also called “concerning” recent Iowa Supreme Court rulings regarding criminal penalties for minors that were broader than the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Langholz is president of the Iowa Chapter of the Federalist Society, an organization which opposes what they believe is a liberal bias in law schools and the legal profession.

The next governor will make appointments to the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission which selects new supreme court justices for the governor to choose from.   In May Reynolds appointed her father Charles Strawn to the district court judicial nomination commission for District 5A.   

Post was edited on 9/12 at 4:31  p.m. to clarify that Governor Reynolds appointed her father to a district court nominating commission, not the state judicial nominating commission that selects supreme court justices.     

Post was edited 09/13 at 9:13 a.m. to correct typo in court decision.

Follow Joyce Russell on Twitter:   @russell_ipr