Iowa Supreme Court

S Kaya / Flickr

Recently, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled on cases dealing with Iowa's 2017 collective bargaining law, the judicial nomination process, wind energy restrictions, and jury selection and representation.

Natalie Krebs/IPR

This year has been a political roller coaster for the state’s transgender population. A March state Supreme Court decision overturned a ban on using state Medicaid dollars for transition-related surgery. Then lawmakers enacted a provision that would alter the Civil Rights Act so Medicaid could once again opt out of paying.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a 2017 law limiting bargaining rights for many state employees. In 4-3 rulings in two separate cases, the court denied arguments made by unions representing teachers and other public workers that the law violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution because it gives more bargaining rights to public safety workers.

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds now controls a majority of the 17-member panel that nominates potential Iowa Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges. She signed controversial judicial selection changes into law Wednesday.

steven holt
John Pemble / IPR

Republicans at the Iowa Capitol approved a plan Saturday, the final day of the legislative session, to give the governor more power in the process of selecting Iowa Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges.

John Pemble/Iowa Public Radio

The Violence Against Women Act made its way through the U.S. House this week, and moves on to the Senate. The reauthorized legislation was co-sponsored by Rep. Cindy Axne, a democrat representing Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, which includes Des Moines. 

Rep. Axne joins host Ben Kieffer to discuss the act on this "news buzz" edition of River to River.

Also on the program:

christopher mcdonald
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds Wednesday appointed Court of Appeals Judge Christopher McDonald to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court.

Reynolds said she is proud to appoint McDonald to the court.

“On the bench, Judge McDonald has earned a reputation as a brilliant and thoughtful jurist, a hard worker and a good colleague,” Reynolds said.

Julian Garrett
John Pemble / IPR

Senate Republicans advanced a proposal out of a committee Monday that would change the make-up of the judicial nominating commissions that recommend potential judges to the governor.

The bill would allow the governor and statehouse leaders from the same political party to appoint three-fourths of the members of each commission, and statehouse leaders from the other party would appoint the remaining fourth.

Andrew Bardwell/flickr

Constitutional interpretation is at the forefront of this week's court news, with questions about the Second Amendment and gender identity dominating the conversation.

Host Ben Kieffer is joined by University of Iowa College of Law professor Paul Gowder and University of Northern Iowa political science professor Scott Peters for a look at the meaning and potential impact of several major state and federal supreme court headlines from the week. 

legislative leadership
John Pemble/IPR

Iowa’s top Republican lawmakers said Thursday they will likely consider changes to the state’s merit-based system for choosing Supreme Court justices during the legislative session that starts Monday.

At a forum with reporters, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, accused Iowa Supreme Court justices of “judicial activism” over the past two decades. He said “the general populace” should have more say in how justices are picked.

police car
Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could determine the fate of pretextual traffic stops in the state.

dick lamb
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which stretches diagonally across the state, and the Iowa Utilities Board.

Joyce Russell/IPR

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. 

susan christensen
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed District Court Judge Susan Christensen to the Iowa Supreme Court Wednesday to take the place of retiring Justice Bruce Zager.

Christensen, 56, lives in Harlan and works in Iowa’s Fourth Judicial District. She has worked in family and juvenile law and has served as an assistant county attorney.

Iowa Public Radio

A former justice is warning a lack of diversity on Iowa’s Supreme Court could undermine its legitimacy. With an upcoming vacancy on the bench, state officials could have a chance to consider the issue. The judicial nominating commission began interviewing applicants Monday.

suzanna de baca
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a law Friday requiring women seeking abortions to wait 72 hours between an initial appointment and getting the procedure.

In a 5-2 decision, the court ruled the waiting period violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Iowa Constitution.

John Pemble/IPR

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says diversity alone will not be enough to win an upcoming vacancy on the state’s Supreme Court. Justice Bruce Zager is retiring on September 3, 2018 and Reynolds is slated to name his replacement. It could be an opportunity to diversify a judiciary overwhelmingly made up of white men.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

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.

CTF83/Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Supreme Court has considered several questions recently, including: When do hugs between a student and a school employee add up to illegal sexual contact? Also, if a neglected property becomes an eyesore, can the city take it without paying the owner a dime?

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with legal expert Todd Pettys about the stories behind several Iowa Supreme Court cases. Pettys also shares his thoughts on whether Iowa’s new fetal heartbeat law will be struck down.

Pettys is the H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation at the University of Iowa College of Law.

Cases discussed this hour include:

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Jill Meadows v. Kimberly K. Reynolds ex rel. State of Iowa and Iowa Board of Medicine

More information: https://www.iowacourts.gov/iowa-courts/supreme-court/supreme-court-oral-argument-schedule/case/17-1579

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Iowa Department of Transportation does not have the authority to regulate cities’ traffic cameras.

In a 6-0 opinion, Supreme Court justices agreed the IDOT cannot order Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Muscatine to remove or relocate traffic cameras. The state legislature would have to pass a law specifically granting the IDOT the authority to make and enforce rules for cities’ traffic cameras.

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in one of four cases involving traffic cameras.

Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Muscatine argue the Iowa Department of Transportation doesn’t have the authority to regulate how cities enforce their traffic laws.

In 2015, the IDOT ordered the three cities to remove some of their speed cameras. The cities sued, and in 2017, a district court upheld the IDOT order. The cities appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

The Iowa Supreme Court has made it possible for people who plead guilty to a crime to later claim innocence and challenge their conviction.

In a 4-3 opinion issued Friday, the court overturned its previous interpretation of Iowa law concerning post-conviction relief for those who plead guilty.

iowa judicial branch building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case in which two women are suing a Pella church for failing to supervise a pastor who sexually exploited them.

The Bandstra family argues they should be allowed to sue the Board of Elders of the Covenant Reformed Church for negligent supervision and defamation.

Valerie and Anne Bandstra say statements from the church board accused them of adultery for their sexual contact with former pastor Patrick Edouard, who was convicted of four counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor in 2012.

alice clapman
Michael Zamora / The Des Moines Register

The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit over a state-mandated, three-day waiting period for women seeking abortions.

senate judiciary committee
John Pemble / IPR

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill Monday that would require a supermajority of Iowa Supreme Court justices to declare a law unconstitutional.

Five of the Supreme Court’s seven justices would have to agree in order to declare an Iowa statute unconstitutional.

Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola, said he feels the Iowa Supreme Court has “overstepped its bounds.”

John Pemble/IPR

The Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court Mark Cady Wednesday painted a worsening picture of the condition of the Iowa justice system, after years of declining or status quo budgets for the judicial branch.  

In his Condition of the Judiciary Address, Justice Cady said that insufficient resources are beginning to “tear at the fabric of the mission of the courts” to provide justice for all Iowans.  

The judicial branch workforce was cut this year by 10 percent and there are over 115 unfilled positions, including 11 district court judgeships.

Photo by John Pemble

This week, the Iowa Supreme Court decided that enforcement of a new Iowa law requiring a three-day waiting period for an abortion will remain on hold.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with law professor Todd Pettys, H. Blair & Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation at the University of Iowa, about what the court is considering.

He says that one of the issues before the Iowa Supreme Court is the question of whether the Iowa Constitution provides more protection for women than the U.S. Constitution.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

People convicted of sex crimes are still required to register as sex offenders in Iowa even if they’re appealing their convictions, according to today's ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court.

The case centers on the appeal of Brian James Maxwell, who was hired as a youth coordinator for two churches in the Winterset area in March 2014. That month he inappropriately touched a 16-year-old girl who he met through this job.

Jasper County Sheriff's Department photo

The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday evening in a case that looks at how far a person’s right to privacy extends during a warrantless search by law enforcement.

In October 2015, Bion Ingram was driving a car that wasn’t his. When he was pulled over by a Jasper County Sheriff’s deputy, the deputy noticed the registration did not correspond to the car’s license plate.

Flickr / Marc Treble

The Iowa Supreme Court’s “Access to Justice Commission” has released a report that outlines steps to remove barriers to civil justice for low-income and disadvantaged Iowans.

At the beginning of the report, the commission notes the Iowa State Bar Association says that nearly half of all Iowans have difficulty affording a lawyer for basic legal needs.

Pages