Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady addresses the Iowa legislature this morning in what will surely be the most-watched ever state of the judiciary speech. Iowa Public Television is carrying the live feed at 10 am, and I’ll liveblog after the jump. Cady is the senior justice remaining on the high court, having been appointed by Governor Terry Branstad in 1998. He is also the author of the 2009 Varnum v Brien ruling, which struck down Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act. That decision sparked a successful campaign against retaining Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices Michael Streit and David Baker in November. The four remaining justices chose Cady to serve as chief justice until replacements for Ternus, Streit and Baker have been appointed.
So far 61 people have applied for a position on the Iowa Supreme Court. The current list is here, but more applications may come in by the deadline (January 14). So far applicants include 10 women and 51 men from many different towns and cities of the state. Most are in their 40s or 50s. The few applicants in their 30s include both U.S. attorneys appointed by George W. Bush for Iowa (Matt Whitaker and Matt Dummermuth). One Republican state legislator, Iowa House Judiciary Committee Chair Rich Anderson, has applied as well. The Des Moines Register noted that one applicant, University of Iowa law professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig, submitted a brief in support of same-sex marriage when the Supreme Court was considering the Varnum v Brien case. Another applicant, Michael Keller, has praised that ruling, which allowed him to marry his partner.
State Court Administrator David Boyd told the Des Moines Register that “he was ‘very pleased, and maybe a little surprised’ with the quality and number of applicants, given the intense public scrutiny on the court since the election.” The state judicial nominating commission “welcomes written comments from the public about the qualifications of any of the applicants.” After interviewing the candidates, the judicial nominating commission will send a short list of nine names to Branstad, who will fill the three vacancies.
P.S. This week a report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics summarized the independent expenditures in last year’s retention campaign. Supporters of retaining Ternus, Streit and Baker were vastly outspent by groups seeking to oust the justices.
UPDATE: Liveblog starting now after the jump. Iowa Public TV will rebroadcast the speech at 9:30 pm on Wednesday.
THURSDAY UPDATE: House Judiciary Committee Chair Anderson seems to be closing the door on impeachment.
Rep. Rich Anderson, R-Clarinda, said he personally believes that the justices’ actions in issuing a ruling that in effect legalized same-sex marriage do not meet the standard for impeachment spelled out in the Iowa Constitution: “misdemeanor or malfeasance in office.” The court ruled that an Iowa law limiting marriage to a man and a woman was unconstitutional.
He said his gut reaction is that the yet-to-be-filed bill won’t make it out of his committee, one of the first steps in the legislative process.
“I don’t believe there’s any likelihood of impeachment,” Anderson said.
I’ve posted more reactions to Cady’s speech from state legislators below.