Iowa Supreme Court Justice Zager

Law Degree from Drake University
1999 appointed to district court in Waterloo
2011 appointed to Iowa Supreme Court by Gov. Branstad

Iowa Supreme Court historic civil rights cases:

  • 1834 – slave in Missouri came to Iowa and worked in the lead mines to earn money to buy his freedom. His owner came to Iowa to reclaim him. Court ruled that he could not be reclaimed because in Iowa slavery was illegal.
    • This decision would essentially be voided by the Dread Scott decision
  • 1868 – Susan Clark, an african american girl, wanted to go to her neighborhood school instead of the segregated school. Supreme court ruled that simply having a “separate but equal” school was not good enough.
    • Plessy vs. Fergusen overrides this decision
    • Brown vs. Board of Education vindicated the decision
  • 1873 – African American school teacher wanted to buy a first class ticket on a boat across the Mississippi. She was not allowed to buy that ticket, and so bought a a separate meal ticket, and refused to be told where to sit, as only white passengers could decide where to sit. She was violently removed, and sued. The supreme court ruled that a right extended to one person even a “social right”, must be extended to all.
    • This standard did not become national law until the 1964 civil rights act.

Each case chosen by the supreme court is randomly assigned to one of the seven members of the supreme court to write the opinion.

Court can decided to hear oral arguments or decide the case on the briefs alone.

The opinion writing process on the Iowa Supreme Court is more collaborative than many other courts. The opinion writer brings the piece to the other judges and they critique and work on the opinion together before it is published.

Adjudicatory term from Sep. 1st to June 30th and all cases have to be heard and decided on within that time. If a case is accepted to be heard in that time it must be decided on by the end of the term.
– “Administrative Term” between July and August. Budget for the entire court system is decided durning this time.

In Des Moines around 10 days a month during the adjudicatory term.

“Courts on the Road” – hear an oral argument in a courthouse in different Iowa communities. Have dinner with the business leaders in the communities. Speak at high schools.


Iowa: Court Reaffirms Dentist’s Firing of Woman He Found Too Attractive –

“The court said such firings were not sex discrimination because they were motivated by feelings, not gender.”

“Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote that Ms. Nelson was fired ‘because of the activities of her consensual personal relationship.’ ”