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Iowa Gov. to Make High Court Picks

Iowa Gov. to Make High Court Picks

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Iowa governor Terry Branstad will announce his choices for the state supreme court this week, with justices to fill vacancies left after voters recalled three last November in the wake of the court's 2009 ruling for marriage equality.

Branstad, a Republican, has until Saturday to announce his picks, the Associated Press reports. He said Monday that he had interviewed all nine candidates chosen by the state's judicial nominating commission and was in the process of reviewing their records. Five of the candidates are judges, three are lawyers, and one is a law professor. The professor, Angela Onwuachi-Willig of the University of Iowa, is the only woman and the only member of a racial minority among the candidates -- she is African-American.

The governor has final say on the judicial appointments, but he must choose from the candidates selected by the commission. If he does not choose any of them by the deadline, the court's chief justice will make the appointments.

The seven-member supreme court ruled unanimously for marriage equality in April 2009. Three of the justices were up for retention votes last year, and all three -- Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and justices David Baker and Michael Streit -- were recalled.

Meanwhile, Iowa legislators are seeking to amend the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage and thus nullify the ruling, and a new bill sponsored by six conservative Republicans in the state house of representatives would prohibit the state supreme court from ruling on marriage and county recorders from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. A legal expert tells The Des Moines Register the latest move is a "rare and radical step." Read more here.

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