67 Alb. L. Rev. 793 (2003-2004)
Examining the Decline in Support for Merit Selection in the States

handle is hein.journals/albany67 and id is 807 raw text is: EXAMINING THE DECLINE IN SUPPORT FOR MERIT
Seth Andersen*
Popular support for constitutional change from judicial elections
to merit selection systems has declined significantly over the past
three decades.1 The last state to adopt a merit selection system by
constitutional amendment was New Mexico in 1988, and that was a
compromise measure that retained contested partisan elections
following initial appointment.2 Between 1940 and 1988, fifteen
states   adopted    constitutional amendments         to   replace   judicial
elections with some type of merit-selection system for some or all
levels of courts.3 Of these fifteen states, five completely abolished
contested judicial elections; the remaining ten kept contested
elections for some or all of their trial court judgeships. The 1960s
and 1970s were the real heyday of merit selection, with twelve of
the fifteen constitutional amendments occurring between 1960 and
1977.4    Five   other   state  constitutions include      merit selection
provisions, but     all of these      states   had   existing   systems    of
* Project Manager, Standing Committee on Judicial Independence, American Bar
Association. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not
necessarily reflect the official positions or policies of the American Bar Association.
For the purposes of this article, the term merit selection is used to refer to appointive
state judicial selection systems in which a nominating commission screens applicants and
provides a short list of names to the appointing authority, usually the governor, who makes
the final appointment. Under this definition, merit selection systems may or may not include
such features as uncontested retention elections to secure additional terms, legislative
confirmation of appointees, or reappointment and reconfirmation of judges for additional
2 See Anthony Champagne, The Politics of Judicial Selection, 31 POLW STUD. J. 413, 413
1 (2003), available at http://www.ajs.org/selection/sel-stateselect.asp (last visited Mar. 29,
2004) (listing the dates of adoption of constitutional merit selection provisions). The fifteen
states that adopted constitutional amendments for merit selection of some or all state judges
between 1940 and 1988 were, in order of adoption: Missouri (1940), Indiana (1960), Iowa
(1962), Nebraska (1962), Colorado (1967), Oklahoma (1967), Utah (1967), Tennessee (1971),
Florida (1972), Kansas (1972), Wyoming (1973), Arizona (1974), New York (1977), South
Dakota (1980), and New Mexico (1988). Id.
4 See id.

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