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

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Monday, November 28, 2022

Custom and Senate Confirmation of New Jersey Supreme Court Nominees Results in Democratic Governor Appointing a Republican

New Jersey's Democratic Governor Phil Murphy nominated a Republican, Douglas Fasciale, to the state's supreme court. Republican Senator Holly Schepisi says this nomination is the result of Schepsi's deal with Murphy, according Katie Sobko, writing for northjersey.com.

Sobko adds that an unwritten rule of senatorial courtesy "allows senators to block judicial nominees from their home county," which Sen. Schepisi did in blocking Gov. Murphy's nomination of Rachel Wainer Apter for a different seat on the NJ Supreme Court. The deal apparently unblocked Wainer Apter in exchange for nominating Republican Fasciale. 

"These nominations — Fasciale, a Republican, and Wainer Apter, a Democrat — maintain the 70-year tradition of having a political power balance on the state’s highest court," Sobko notes.

Both nominees were confirmed by the state senate.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Oklahoma Senate Votes to Replace Supreme Court Nominating Commission with Senate Confirmation

 The Oklahoma Senate recently voted to replace the state’s current bar-privileging method of supreme court selection with a more democratic appointment process including senate confirmation of the governor’s nominee.

Oklahoma Supreme Court selection currently centers on judicial nominating commission (“JNC”) with six of its fifteen members selected by the state’s bar. The governor must appoint one of the three finalists chosen by the JNC. Oklahoma’s JNC has been criticized for its secrecy.

 To reform this system, the Oklahoma Senate recently passed  Joint Resolution 43 which, if approved by Oklahoma’s House and voters, would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to abolish the current JNC and instead follow the United States Constitution in subjecting the governor’s supreme court nominee to senate confirmation.

The Oklahoma Senate has previously sought similar change.