Candidate Profile
Susan Christensen

Non-Partisan , Iowa

Biography

Name
Susan Christensen
Party
Non-Partisan
Race
Supreme Court (retention of Christensen)
Incumbent
Yes
Links

Panel Rating

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Other Information

Chief Justice Susan Christensen was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2018 by Governor Kim Reynolds. Governor Reynolds has said that, when choosing whom to appoint, she wants “somebody that will follow the law and would revere the Constitution." In 2007, Governor Chet Culver appointed Christensen to be a district court associate judge; in 2015, Governor Terry Branstad appointed her to be a district court judge.

Judge Voter Guide gives the Chief Justice a rating of 7 out of 10.

The Chief Justice wrote the opinion for the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Good v. Iowa Department of Human Services (2019): “In 2007, the Iowa legislature amended…the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA)—to add ‘gender identity’ to the list of protected characteristics…We must now determine whether the language of Iowa Administrative Code rule 441—78.1(4) pertaining to the prohibition of Iowa Medicaid coverage of surgical procedures related to ‘gender identity disorders’ violates the ICRA or the Iowa Constitution…[a Medicaid provider] is required to ‘provide, at a minimum, all benefits and services deemed medically necessary that are covered under the contract with the agency [the Iowa Department of Human Services]’…we affirm the judgment of the district court because the rule violates the ICRA’s prohibition against gender-identity discrimination. Because of this, we adhere to the doctrine of constitutional avoidance and do not address the constitutional claim.”

The Chief Justice wrote the Iowa Supreme Court’s majority opinion in State v. Brown (2019): “This case requires us to decide whether a motorist who breaks a traffic law may lawfully be stopped if the officer was motivated by investigative reasons for the stop…Consistent with precedent in Iowa and the vast bulk of authority elsewhere, we affirm the district court judgment because the subjective motivations of an individual officer for making a traffic stop are irrelevant as long as the officer has objectively reasonable cause to believe the motorist violated a traffic law.” Justices Cady, Appel, and Wiggins dissented.

The Chief Justice joined the Iowa Supreme Court’s majority opinion in AFSCME Iowa Council 61 v. State (2019): “[This case] presents constitutional challenges to the 2017 amendments to the Public Employment Relations Act, Iowa Code chapter 20. The amendments…result in many public employees losing significant statutory bargaining rights compared to other public employees with arguably similar jobs… The plaintiffs allege the amendments violate the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution and violate their right to freedom of association…We conclude the 2017 amendments withstand the constitutional challenges.” Justices Cady, Wiggins, and Appel dissented.

The Chief Justice joined the Court majority in State v. Schiebout: “Kamie Jo Schiebout wrote checks without authorization from a bank account that was not hers. The State charged her with violating Iowa Code section 714.1(6) (2015), which provides a person commits theft ‘if the person knows that such check…will not be paid when presented.’ All seven checks the State charged Schiebout with writing were paid when presented…Evidence that she presented checks without authorization is, without more, insufficient to establish this particular crime [of presenting a check that one knows will not be paid].” Justices Oxley and McDonald dissented.

The Chief Justice joined a unanimous Court in Homan v. Branstad (2016): “We affirm the judgment of the district court finding the Governor’s exercise of his item veto [of appropriations for the mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda] did not exceed the scope of his constitutional authority.”

Questionnaire

Please note: Responses are entered electronically by the candidate and are listed verbatim.

Religious Liberty

Religious liberty is at risk in the United States and deserves the highest level of protection in the law.

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The Ten Commandments should not be displayed in public school buildings or court houses.

(Did not answer)

What does "separation of church and state" mean to you?

(Did not answer)


Values

Judeo-Christian values established a framework of morality which is necessary for our system of limited government.

(Did not answer)

George Washington's comment that “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society” is still true today.

(Did not answer)

Briefly describe your spiritual beliefs and values.

(Did not answer)

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Bostock v. Clayton County, which justice’s opinion most closely aligns with your opinion of whether the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be extended to the LGBTQ community?

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What types of pro bono work have you done?

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Qualifications

I voted in these primaries and general elections:

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When you consider your views on a wide range of issues from economic and social matters to foreign policy and immigration, which of the following best describes you overall?

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Please provide publicly available information validating your answer to the previous question.

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What education or experience qualifies you to hold the office for which you seek election?

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In what areas of law have you practiced?

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Have you ever been convicted of a felony or been penalized for sexual misconduct? If so, please explain.

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Why should the voters choose you?

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Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

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Judicial Philosophy

The U.S. Constitution and my state constitution should be interpreted as living documents, rather than using a strict constructionist or originalist approach in judicial decisions.

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There are times when American judges should alter U.S. case law in order to comply with foreign case law.

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Which current U.S. Supreme Court justice best reflects your judicial philosophy?

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What is the proper use of legislative history in interpreting statutory law?

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What possibilities should a judge exhaust before departing from precedent?

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How should a judge determine which rights are protected by the Constitution even though they are not specifically mentioned?

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Background

Education
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Work & Military
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Affiliations
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Offices
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