Iowa Judge Recognized For Promoting Gender Balance In Courts

By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

U.S. Chief Magistrate Celeste Bremer will receive two prestigious awards this month for her work to increase diversity and gender fairness in Iowa courts.

Bremer, of the Southern District, received the Diana Murphy Legacy Award during an Infinity Project program Wednesday in Omaha, Neb.

“We are so pleased to honor Judge Bremer with the Diana Murphy Legacy Award in recognition of her tireless efforts to ensure the highest quality of justice for all within the eighth circuit region,” Prof. Debra Fitzpatrick, Infinity Project co-founder, said Wednesday.

Fitzpatrick said Bremer has always been outspoken about the inequities that remain in the judicial system, while encouraging “countless” women to step up and serve on the bench.

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women will present the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice to Bremer at the Women’s Equality Day event Aug. 23. This award also honors Bremer’s work to increase diversity on the courts and transparency in the judicial selection process.

“I am honored to be continuing the work of Cristine Wilson and Judge Diana Murphy to increase fairness and the perception of fairness in the justice system,” Bremer said Wednesday. “Over the past 30 years, I’ve worked to increase transparency in the merit-based judicial selection process in Iowa, through training nominating commissioners, encouraging applicants, watching interviews, and speaking out on issues relating to diversity on the bench.”

Bremer said she will continue to “challenge the process” and focus attention on how geographic diversity on state and federal benches is addressed and considered. Many question the need for gender and racial diversity or diversity in a judge’s training, legal experience and economic background.

“We still have work to do, and I hope recognition of my work will encourage all Iowans to consider the importance of diversity on the bench, and to continue to challenge the framework of systems that have impeded full participation of women in the Third Branch of government,” Bremer said.

The Infinity Project established the legacy award in honor of Murphy, the first woman judge to serve on the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Wilson was an advocate who pushed for the establishment of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women in 1972, was a founding member of the Iowa Women’s Political Caucus and was the first woman to chair the Polk County Republican platform committee.

Bremer and the other volunteers of the Infinity Project supported and advocated for recent judicial appointments including 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jane Kelly and U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose. Rose was the second woman appointed to Iowa’s federal bench and Kelly was the second woman to be appointed to the 8th Circuit.

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