University of Denver

Requirement for Partisan Balance on Delaware Courts Leads to Reform Proposal

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

An unusual feature of the Delaware constitution is that it requires partisan balance on the state’s courts, so judicial vacancies are reserved for members of a particular political party. All judges are appointed by the governor from names submitted by an executive order-based nominating commission, subject to senate confirmation. Senate Republicans are questioning whether some recent appointees changed their party affiliation so that they would be eligible for appointment, and they have proposed a constitutional amendment that would require judicial applicants to have held their party affiliation for at least two years.