Iowa Supreme Court
|Iowa Supreme Court|
Supreme Court building
|Country||Iowa , United States|
|Location||Des Moines, Iowa|
|Composition method||Missouri Plan|
|Authorized by||Iowa Constitution|
|Decisions are appealed to||Supreme Court of the United States|
In 1846, Iowa became the 29th state to join the United States. Following the constitution of the federal government, the powers of the government in Iowa were divided into the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. In the judicial branch, the Iowa General Assembly divided the state into four judicial districts, and Supreme Court justices were to serve six year terms, while district judges were elected for five year terms. The Iowa Constitution of 1857 increased the judicial districts from four to 11, and allowed the General Assembly to reorganize districts after 1860 and every four years thereafter.
The Iowa Supreme Court is an appellate court. An appellate court reviews decisions of trial courts in which appeals have been allowed. An appellate court does not preside over trials. Appellate court hearings do not involve witnesses, juries, new evidence, or court reporters. Instead, an appellate court reviews the written record of the trial court to determine whether any significant legal errors occurred. The Rules of Appellate Procedure list the requirements for filing an appeal.
The seven-member Iowa Supreme Court has many important responsibilities.
- The Court is the "court of last resort" or the highest court in the Iowa state court system. Its opinions are binding on all other Iowa state courts.
- The Iowa Supreme Court has the sole power to admit persons to practice as attorneys in the courts of Iowa, to prescribe rules to supervise attorney conduct, and to discipline attorneys.
- The Court is responsible for promulgating rules of procedure and practice used throughout the state courts.
- The Iowa Supreme Court has supervisory and administrative control over the judicial branch and over all judicial officers and court employees.
Justices are appointed by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by the State Judicial Nominating Commission. 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. The justices elect the chief justice.
|Name||Appointed/Elected||Term expires||Appointing Governor||Governor's Party Affiliation|
|Chief Justice Mark Cady||1998||December 31, 2016||Terry Branstad||Republican|
|David Wiggins||2003||December 31, 2020||Tom Vilsack||Democratic|
|Daryl Hecht||2006||December 31, 2016||Tom Vilsack||Democratic|
|Brent R. Appel||2006||December 31, 2016||Tom Vilsack||Democratic|
|Bruce B. Zager||February 2011||December 31, 2020||Terry Branstad||Republican|
|Mansfield, EdwardEdward Mansfield||February 2011||December 31, 2020||Terry Branstad||Republican|
|Thomas D. Waterman||February 2011||December 31, 2020||Terry Branstad||Republican|
Mark Cady is the current Chief Justice on the Court.
The Court had three vacancies following the defeat of three justices in the November 2, 2010, retention election. Those vacancies were filled in February 2011 by the appointments of Edward Mansfield, Thomas D. Waterman, and Bruce Zager. In March 2011, the Court voted for Justice Cady to continue as Chief Justice.
In Re the Matter of Ralph
In the very first decision of the Iowa Supreme Court – In Re the Matter of Ralph, decided July 1839 – the Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the American Civil War. This is the first reported case of the Iowa Supreme Court.
Clark v. The Board of Directors
In 1868, the Iowa Supreme Court decided Clark v. The Board of Directors, ruling that racially segregated “separate but equal” schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.
Arabella A. Mansfield
In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law, with the Court ruling that women may not be denied the right to practice law in Iowa and admitting Arabella A. Mansfield to the practice of law.
Coger v. The North Western Union Packet Co.
The Court heard Coger v. The North Western Union Packet Co. in 1873, ruling against racial discrimination in public accommodations 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.
Varnum v. Brien
On April 3, 2009, in Varnum v. Brien, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down a statutory same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional, joining the highest judicial bodies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, and Hawaii as the fifth court to rule for the right of same-sex marriage under the state constitution.
- Iowa Supreme Court: History
- National Center for State Courts. Iowa Judicial Branch.
- Schulte, Grant (January 14, 2011). "High court's four justices get back to hearing cases". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- Krogstad, Jens (March 31, 2011). "Cady will continue as chief justice". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
- 1 Morris 1 (Iowa 1839)
-  Iowa Courts History Civil Rights
- 24 Iowa 266 (1868)
- 37 Iowa 145 (1873)
- WL 874044 (Iowa 2009)
- Eckhoff, Jeff; Schulte, Grant (April 3, 2009). "Unanimous ruling: Iowa marriage no longer limited to one man, one woman". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved January 14, 2011.