Iowa’s All-Male Court Gets Female Justice, Choice Brings Family Connection

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Susan Christensen, a district court judge from Harlan, will next month bring something to the Iowa Supreme Court that it's been missing: a female justice.

Two other women have served on the bench in the state's history but none since 2011. Governor Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday afternoon that she was appointing Christensen to the court.

Reynolds, the state's first female governor, shares a similar background with Christensen. They both chose non-traditional career paths, focusing first on raising their children. The governor said, "Judge Christensen didn't take the typical path to where she is today. She attended law school later than most, working for years as a legal secretary to support her family and her schooling and she understands the challenges of everyday Iowans."

Christensen said raising her children helped provide her with the foundation she will bring to the bench. "Being your mom has been my greatest accomplishment," she said with her family gathered nearby, "I've gone to Special Olympics, jazz band concerts, basketball, volleyball and trap shooting for 30 years. That has definitely provided with me a much-needed balance."

Christensen brings a family connection to the job, as well. Her late father, Jerry Larson, served a record 29 years on the court.

She gets sworn in on September, the day after Justice Bruce Zager retires.