Iowa JNC

Why does Iowa use judicial retention?

In 1962, Iowa voters approved a constitutional amendment that replaced the process of electing judges by popular vote with merit selection and retention elections. This process promotes selection of the best qualified applicants while retaining judicial accountability and public oversight. Although no judicial selection system is completely free of politics, a process using merit selection and retention elections:

  • Curbs the influence of political parties and special interest groups in the selection of Iowa’s judges.
  • Emphasizes the selection of judges based upon their professional qualifications.
  • Gives voters the final say about who serves as a judge.
  • Is the most effective way to ensure fair and impartial courts.

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