University of Denver

Governors in Elective States Take Divergent Approaches to Filling Midterm Vacancies

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

In most states that elect their judges, vacancies that arise between elections are filled by gubernatorial appointment. Some governors opt to use an advisory panel in making these appointments, as did Ohio Governor John Kasich recently in filling a supreme court seat. According to a law professor who chaired the panel, the “process could have been quite political . . . but the Governor made clear he did not want political considerations to intrude on [the] deliberations.” Instead, the panel “identified the most qualified candidates and their respective strengths and weaknesses.” As IAALS Online discussed in a December 7 post, outgoing North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue opted not to seek assistance from a judicial nominating commission she established by executive order in filling a late-term vacancy on the state’s high court, citing time constraints. Perdue made four additional judicial appointments in her final days as governor. These selections attracted some criticism by virtue of the fact that three of the four are close associates of the governor and only one has prior judicial experience.