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Iowa judge selection panel to choose Supreme Court nominee

December 13, 2018 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa court officials say current members of a state commission that recommends appointees for the Iowa Supreme Court to the governor can remain until July.

That means three members of the commission will not have to leave on Jan. 1 as a Republican attorney had claimed and can participate in choosing nominees for a current court vacancy.

Des Moines lawyer Bill Gustoff, who is also treasurer of the Republican Party of Iowa, argued a 2008 state law requires three members of the State Judicial Nominating Commission to leave in January because their terms have expired.

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An Iowa attorney general’s opinion released Thursday, however, says another section of Iowa law allows commissioners to remain until a successor is elected to begin a new term on July 1.

Gustoff’s challenge would have given Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds a chance to move the court in a more conservative direction at a time when it could decide on challenges to laws on abortion and collective bargaining rights.

The commission is accepting applications to replace Justice Daryl Hecht, an appointee of Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack. Hecht left the court to battle skin cancer.