- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa will for the first time have two women on its Supreme Court after Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday named an eastern Iowa attorney to the seven-member panel.

Dana Oxley, the only woman finalist on the list forwarded to the governor on Jan. 9, is an attorney who has questioned the importance of abiding by past decisions. In her application she stated, the court should “not blindly apply its prior decisions but must be vigilant in protecting the rule of law.”

Oxley, 52, of Swisher is the second woman on the court, joining Susan Christensen who was appointed by Reynolds in 2018. Oxley is only the fourth woman to be named to the state’s highest court.

Reynolds said gender was not a factor in her choice

“We need more women in the courts, yes but I don’t make my decision based on gender. They earned those selections,” Reynolds said. “She’s smart, she’s articulate, she’s hard-working, she brings a breadth of experience to the court.”

She was one of three finalists chosen from 12 applicants forwarded to Reynolds from the state nominating commission, which picks finalists for the court.

Oxley worked as a law clerk for an 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge. She has been a lawyer at a Cedar Rapids law firm since 2011. She taught legal analysis writing and research courses at the University of Iowa as adjunct professor and is a board member of a Lutheran Church elementary school board.

She is Reynolds’ third appointment to the court and fills a vacancy left by the unexpected death on Nov. 15 of Chief Justice Mark Cady.

Reynolds will name a fourth justice when she fills a vacancy left by the retirement of acting Chief Justice David Wiggins in March.

The appointments have enabled Reynolds to reshape the court despite her being governor for only 2 1/2 years. Former Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack named five justices from 1999 to 2007.

Applicants are being accepted until Feb. 21 and the commission plans to interview and name three finalists for that seat on March 6.

Reynolds has said she doesn’t consider political viewpoints or positions on specific issues when choosing justices but she also has said that elections matter and governors have the right to choose whom they believe best serve justice. She has acknowledged in front of conservative audiences that her choices have moved the court to the right, expressing the view that Iowa’s court was among the most liberal before.

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