A National Partnership Working for Fair and Impartial Courts
Contact Us Home May 29, 2016
"Across the country, state courts are drowning in a sea of special-interest campaign money."
New York Times editorial

Appointment/Retention Systems

Judicial appointments date back to the birth of the American republic. Judges in all 13 states and the federal government were appointed. But in the 1800s, electing judges became the overwhelmingly preferred model.

The primary model for appointing Supreme Court justices
today involves bipartisan commissions, which submit slates of potential nominees to state governors, who in turn choose from such lists. This system is known by many as "merit selection," and also as the "Missouri Plan," in honor of Missouri, which first adopted a commission system in 1940.

Today, 24 states use bipartisan nominating panels to
fill Supreme Court seats. Once appointed, judges periodically face voters in one-candidate "retention" elections, in which the public votes "yes" or "no" on whether to grant another term.

Nominating commissions also are used by eight states with competitive elections, to help fill Supreme Court vacancies that occur before a term has expired.

To learn more, see:



The positions and policies of Justice at Stake publications and campaign partners are their own, and do not necessarily reflect those of other campaign partners or board members.
Website Design in Iowa by Global Reach