DES MOINES – There will soon be a vacancy on the Iowa Supreme Court.
On Friday, Iowa Supreme Court Justice Bruce B. Zager, of Waterloo, announced his retirement effective September 3, 2018. Justice Zager’s judicial career spans 19 years, including 12 years on the district court bench. He began serving on the supreme court March 23, 2011.
The Iowa Supreme Court is composed of seven justices. Appointments to the court are made by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by the State Judicial Nominating Commission. To be considered for appointment a person must be an attorney licensed to practice in Iowa. According to IowaCourts.gov, A justice serves an initial term of office that is one year after appointment and until January 1 following the next judicial retention election after expiration of such year. The regular term of office of justices retained at election is eight years. A justice must retire upon reaching the age of 72. A retired justice may serve as a senior judge if assigned by the court to the senior judge program.
The process to select his replacement goes as follows, according to IowaCourts.gov:
Article V, Section 16 of the Iowa Constitution establishes Judicial Nominating Commissions to select nominees from a pool of applicants to fill judicial vacancies. Nominees are selected based on merit and their names are forwarded to the governor. Iowa began using the “Merit Selection” process after voters approved an amendment to the Iowa Constitution.
The State Judicial Nominating Commission interviews applicants and selects nominees for appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court. This commission is composed of a chair, eight commissioners elected by Iowa lawyers (two from each congressional district), and eight commissioners appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate (two from each congressional district). The chair is the senior justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, other than the chief justice. All commissioners, but the chair, serve for a term of six years.
The secretary of state will notify the nominating commission chair of a vacancy on the supreme court. Within 10 days of receiving a vacancy notice, the chair will call an initial commission meeting and determine the timelines and procedures for accepting applications.
Within 60 days of receiving a notice of a judicial vacancy on the supreme court from the secretary of state, the commission must submit the names of three nominees to the governor. The governor has 30 days to fill the vacancy from the list of nominees submitted by the commission.