The purpose of the ISBA Fair and Impartial Courts Committee is to serve as a valuable resource that Iowa voters can use to inform the decisions that they make during judicial retention elections.

The judicial retention election is an important part of Iowa’s process of selecting and retaining judges for trial and appeals courts. The ISBA has conducted a judicial performance review every two years since 1962 when Iowa replaced judicial elections with its merit selection process.

Iowa’s judicial system is one of the finest in the country. Iowa’s merit selection and retention process keeps politics and campaign money out of our courts, safeguarding its fairness and impartiality. To keep it that way, Iowans from all political spectrums should resist efforts by out-of-state extremist groups who are funding efforts to politicize our courts. If politics and campaign money are allowed into the courts, justice will be for sale.

Fair and impartial courts protect the rights of everyone to the fundamental promise of our justice system: equal justice under the law. Unlike the executive and legislative branches of government, which are necessarily political in nature, the judicial branch was designed to be as insulated as possible from politics and public pressure. When people come to court to resolve their disputes, they should have confidence that the judges deciding their cases will act in a neutral manner. They should not have to worry about whether judges are being guided by influences from outside the courtroom, regardless of how loud or powerful these influences might be. They should be able to trust that justice will be determined by the law and the facts of their case, after everyone involved – regardless of their social status, income, race, beliefs or other factors – has had a fair and equal opportunity to be heard.

The Iowa State Bar Association Fair & Impartial Courts Committee

Committee members