A National Partnership Working for Fair and Impartial Courts
Contact Us Home November 21, 2014
"Judicial races, once staid, low-budget affairs, have in the past decade turned into mudslinging, multimillion-dollar brawls that have shaken public confidence in justice."
USA Today editorial, March 3, 2009
 

Election vs. Appointment

Elect or Appoint? A Central Debate

One of the hottest debates in judicial politics today is whether judges should be chosen through competitive election or appointments. Each side has pros and cons.

Competitive Elections are, adherents say, the most democratic way to make judges accountable to the public. But competitive elections have many problems, and critics, who cite their heavy reliance on special interest money. 22 states use competitive elections to fill state supreme court seats, at least some of the time. Learn more about Competitive Elections.

Appointment/Retention Systems, also known as “merit selection,” rely on bipartisan nominating commissions to put slates of candidates to the governor, who picks from that list. Voters then periodically vote on whether to retain these judges. While this greatly reduces special interest money, critics call these systems undemocratic. 24 states use bipartisan commissions to help choose supreme court justices.  Learn more about Appointment Systems.

Four states have adopted public financing, as a middle ground, to combat special-interest money while still conducting state supreme court elections. But public financing has come under attack and was gutted or inadequately funded in two of these states in 2011. Learn more about public financing.

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