Column Offers an Inside Look at Party "Slating" of Judicial Candidates

August 20, 2013

A recent piece in the Chicago Sun-Times sheds light on the process for selecting judges in Cook County, Illinois. Earlier this month, the Cook County Democratic Party's Judicial Selection Committee met to "slate" candidates, a process through which candidates meet with the committee to discuss their qualifications in hopes of getting the party's endorsement. According to one observer, many would-be candidates "cited their party credentials before mentioning their experience as lawyers or their ratings from the bar groups." Some participants in the slating process view the Judicial Selection Committee's meeting as a mere formality, asserting that most—if not all—of the party's picks are pre-determined, with some candidates who received high ratings from local bar associations being passed over in favor of those with stronger political connections. Candidates are asked to pledge in advance that they will support the party's entire ticket and that they will not run if they do not win the party's endorsement. Illinois is one of eighteen states that choose at least some of their judges in partisan elections.