# Iowa Supreme Court



Best of Bleeding Heartland's original reporting in 2022

As the new year begins, I want to highlight some of the investigative reporting, in-depth analysis, and accountability journalism published first or exclusively here.

Some newspapers and websites put their best original reporting behind a paywall for subscribers, or limit access to a few free articles a month. I’m committed to keeping all Bleeding Heartland content—which includes some 570 articles and commentaries from 2022 alone—available to all, regardless of ability to pay.

As always, I’m grateful for readers who value this kind of work on Iowa politics. Tips on stories that may be worth pursuing are always welcome.

To receive links to Bleeding Heartland articles and commentaries directly via email, subscribe to the free Evening Heartland newsletter. Subscribers to my Substack (which is also free) receive audio files and recaps for every episode of KHOI Radio’s “Capitol Week,” a 30-minute program on which Dennis Hart and I discuss recent Iowa political news.

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The 22 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2022

Governor Kim Reynolds, the state legislature, and Iowa Supreme Court rulings inspired the majority of Bleeding Heartland’s most-read posts from this year.

This list draws from Google Analytics data about total views for 570 posts published from January 1 through December 29. I wrote 212 of those articles and commentaries; other authors wrote 358. I left out the site’s front page and the “about” page, where many people landed following online searches.

In general, Bleeding Heartland’s traffic was higher this year than in 2021, though not quite as high as during the pandemic-fueled surge of 2020. So about three dozen posts that would have ranked among last year’s most-viewed didn’t make the cut for this post. Some honorable mentions from that group:

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She presented herself as a scholar

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

September 10, 1867: the beginning of the end of segregated schools in Iowa; the day 12-year-old Susie Clark tried to enroll at Muscatine’s Grammar School No. 2.

One hundred and fifty-five years ago “on the 10th day of September, 1867, said school being in session, she presented herself, and demanded to be received therein as a scholar under the common school law.” (Iowa Supreme Court, ruling in Clark v. Board of Directors, April 14, 1868.)

Instead of a welcome at her neighborhood school three blocks up West Hill from her home at W. 3rd and Chestnut, someone in charge turned Susie away on orders of the school board.

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How Iowa Supreme Court's McDermott, Oxley have decided big cases

Disclosure: I am a plaintiff in an open records lawsuit that is pending before the Iowa Supreme Court on interlocutory appeal. (The governor’s office appealed a lower court ruling against the state’s motion to dismiss our case.) That litigation has nothing to do with this post.

On the back side of Iowa’s general election ballot, voters have a chance to vote yes or no on allowing two Iowa Supreme Court justices, two Iowa Court of Appeals judges, and dozens of lower court judges to remain on the bench.

No organizations are campaigning or spending money against retaining Justices Dana Oxley and Matthew McDermott, whom Governor Kim Reynolds appointed in 2020.

Nevertheless, I expect the justices to receive a lower share of the retention vote than most of their predecessors. Shortly after the newest justices were part of a controversial ruling on abortion in June, the Iowa Poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom found a partisan split in attitudes toward the Iowa Supreme Court, with a significant share of Democrats and independents disapproving of the court’s work.

This post seeks to provide context on how the justices up for retention have approached Iowa Supreme Court decisions that may particularly interest Bleeding Heartland readers.

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An Iowa Supreme Court hint on "strict scrutiny" for gun cases?

Tom Barton wrote an excellent article for the Cedar Rapids Gazette about what’s at stake in this November’s vote on a pro-gun amendment to the Iowa Constitution. Republicans who pushed for the amendment have downplayed its potential impact on existing gun regulations. But legal experts told Barton some laws, such as a broad prohibition on firearms ownership by people with felony convictions, might not survive a court challenge if voters approve the constitutional amendment.

In a little-noticed passage tucked into a recent decision on abortion rights, a majority of Iowa Supreme Court justices suggested that existing gun regulations could be doomed under a “strict scrutiny” standard.

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Governor discounts pregnant Iowans' well-being. Will Supreme Court agree?

Lawyers representing Governor Kim Reynolds have taken the first step toward reinstating a 2018 law that would ban nearly all abortions in Iowa. A Polk County District Court struck down that law in 2019, and Reynolds did not appeal the decision. A motion filed on August 11 asks the court to lift the permanent injunction, which was founded on Iowa and U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have since been reversed.

In a written statement amplified on her social media, Reynolds promised, “As long as I’m Governor, I will stand up for the sanctity of life and fight to protect the precious and innocent unborn lives.”

Left unsaid by the governor, but made clear by the legal brief her team filed: pregnant Iowans’ interests have almost no value in the eyes of the state.

Will four Iowa Supreme Court justices balance competing concerns the same way?

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