Judicial elections, democratic appointment (e.g., senate confirmation), and the Missouri Plan (a/k/a "merit selection")

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Change to Virginia Judicial Selection?

Virginia one of only two states in which legislature selects top judges

Virginia and South Carolina are the only two states in which the legislature alone selects the state's highest court.  In about a dozen states the legislature, or one of house of it, shares the power to select the supreme court, with the governor and perhaps a nominating commission having some power as well.

This piece from the Virginian Pilot argues that Virginia's system "means judicial appointments can become patronage positions. Petty political disputes result in appointment holdups that burden the system. Qualified candidates face battles over issues irrelevant to their ability to serve."

The Pilot's editorial concludes "More than 30 other states have instituted hybrid systems in which a commission vets judicial candidates and then makes recommendations to the governor for appointment. Virginia should consider something similar."  The descriptive problem with this statement is that it overstates the number of states and the normative problem with this statement is that it lumps together states in with and without senate confirmation and states with and without special powers for the bar. 

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