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

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

New Jersey Judicial Retention

New Jersey's Supreme Court justices have more secure positions than high court judges in nearly any other state. While most states' supreme court justices retain their seats only if they win re-election or re-appointment every several years, New Jersey's justices are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Senate for an initial 7-year term, after which the governor may renominate the justice, subject to Senate consent, for a position until age 70.

The judicial independence fostered by this long-term seems wise to me. However, some NJ legislators have proposed a constitutional amendment that in the words of NJ.com "would have voters give them a thumbs-up or thumbs-down every four years." In other words, retention elections, in which the incumbent faces no opposing candidate but must simply win a majority of yes (rather than no) votes. Nearly all judges around the country win retention elections.

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