In the United States, state supreme court and intermediate appellate court judges are chosen by one of two methods: (1) direct election by voters or (2) selection by governors or judicial selection committees. Judicial selection committees typically comprise appointees of the governor, legislative leaders and other stakeholders. They can either appoint judges directly or submit a list of candidates for the governor to choose from. While touted as being impartial and independent, many judicial selection committees suffer from politicization and the influence of single-interest groups. Read More...
To improve the process for selecting judges, ILR released a publication titled Promoting “Merit” in Merit Selection: A Best Practices Guide to Commission-Based Judicial Selection. Among the procedures the report recommends are:
- A transparent selection process for members of the commission
- Requiring equal representation between the political parties
- Limiting lawyers to one-third of the seats
- An open process for evaluating potential judges
- Requiring the commission to consider merit as the predominant factor for judicial appointments, with geographic and demographic diversity as secondary considerations
- Mandating the submission of multiple candidates to the governor for consideration during a vacancy
These recommendations have been highlighted by a variety of groups from across the political and ideological spectrum, including the League of Women Voters.