District Judge Susan Christensen named to the Iowa Supreme Court

By: Rox Laird on August 2nd, 2018

Susan Christensen told her husband some years ago that she wanted to be a judge, and she reached that goal when she became a District Associate Judge in 2007 and a District Judge in 2015. But her climb up the judiciary ladder did not end there: On Wednesday, Christensen was appointed as an Associate Justice on Iowa’s highest court.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Christensen’s appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. She replaces Justice Bruce Zager, who will retire in September.

Christensen, 56, a Harlan native who worked in private practice and as an assistant county attorney before being appointed to the District Court in 2015, was among 21 applicants for the Court and three finalists forwarded to the governor by the State Judicial Nominating Commission. (For more information on the applicants, the Iowa Judicial Branch has posted all 21 applications and videos of their interviews with the commission.)

Christensen’s judicial aspirations were no doubt inspired by her father, the late Iowa Supreme Justice Jerry Larson, Iowa’s longest-serving justice (1978-2008), who died in April.

In announcing the appointment Wednesday, Governor Reynolds said Christensen did not take a conventional path to the bench. “She attended law school later than most, working for years as a legal secretary to support her family” – which now includes five children and four grandchildren – and to pay for her education, the governor said. “She understands the challenges of everyday Iowans.”

Iowa’s first female governor pointed out, “there will once again be a woman’s voice the Iowa Supreme Court.”

Before Christensen, the first woman to serve on the Court was Linda Neuman (1986-2003). The last female to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court was Justice Marcia Ternus, who was also Iowa’s first female chief justice. Ternus served on the Court from 1993 to 2010, before being voted off the bench largely in part to groups opposed to the court’s unanimous decision in Varnum v. Brien, which recognized same-sex marriage in Iowa.

 


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