Christensen named chief justice of Iowa Supreme Court

The Iowa Supreme Court meets in the Iowa Judicial Branch Building. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Judicial Branch)

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Susan Christensen has been named chief justice of the state’s highest court, making her the second woman ever to serve in the position.

Christensen succeeds former Chief Justice Mark Cady, who passed away Nov. 15, 2019, after a heart attack. Justice David Wiggins has been serving as acting chief justice and will retire in March.

The members of the Supreme Court selected Christensen to serve as their next chief justice.

“As chief justice, I will maintain my passion for child welfare and juvenile justice and do my best to lead Iowa’s judiciary in a manner which provides all 99 counties with fair and impartial justice,” Christensen said in a news release.

The makeup of the Iowa Supreme Court has changed drastically in the last few years, starting with the appointment of Christensen in 2018. Reynolds appointed justices Christopher McDonald in 2019, and Dana Oxley on Jan. 28. Once Wiggins retires, Reynolds will make her fourth appointment to the seven-person court.

The nomination process came under scrutiny after a law passed by the Republican-led Iowa Legislature gave Reynolds more power over who serves on the Iowa Supreme Court nominating commission, which interviews and selects three candidates for the governor to choose from.

Liberal advocates expressed concerns about future rulings involving contentious issues like abortion and collective bargaining.

Prior to her 2018 appointment, Christensen served as a district associate judge and a district court judge. She earned her law degree from Creighton University and grew up in Harlan.


Linh Ta
Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.