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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 28, 2011

Law professor Onwuachi-Willig nominated for Iowa Supreme Court justice

University of Iowa law professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig has been nominated to serve as a justice on the Iowa Supreme Court.

She was one of nine finalists nominated Thursday by the State Judicial Nominating Commission to fill three vacancies on the Supreme Court. Gov. Terry Branstad has 30 days to select the three new justices.

“It’s a great honor to have been named one of the finalists by the Judicial Nominating Commission and I’m pleased to have been included in such an accomplished group,” said Onwuachi-Willig, who was sworn in to the Iowa Bar Thursday morning.

Onwuachi-Willig is the only woman and the only African American nominated. In her application to the nominating commission, she said she was motivated to apply in part by the Iowa Supreme Court’s legacy of protecting the rights of all Iowans. In particular, she pointed to court’s 1868 decision in Clark v. Board of Directors, which held that segregated schools violated the state constitution.

“For a lawyer, there can be no higher calling,” she wrote. “The judiciary, in particular the Iowa Supreme Court, performs an important role in ensuring the protection of the rights of Iowa citizens. As an African-American woman, I understand how my life and the lives of my children have been transformed as the result of important decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education by the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that race-based segregation in public schools violated the U.S. Constitution, and Clark v. Board of Directors, which held essentially the same thing as Brown but nearly 100 years earlier.”

Onwuachi-Willig has taught at the UI College of Law since 2006. Before that she taught at the University of California Davis and practiced at firms in Boston and Cleveland. She also clerked for Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the Sixth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, and federal district court Judge Solomon Oliver Jr.

A resident of Grinnell, she received her Bachelor of Arts from Grinnell College and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell),