University of Denver

Selection Reform on the Agenda in Several States in 2014

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

With the start of a new year comes the convening of state legislatures around the country, and, in a number of states, judicial selection reform is on the table.

  • In Kansas, conservative legislators are expected to pursue a constitutional change to the process for selecting supreme court justices that mirrors the process adopted by statute for court of appeals judges in 2013—gubernatorial appointment, senate confirmation, and retention elections.
  • Proponents of electing judges in Missouri will seek sufficient voter signatures to put a switch to partisan judicial elections for all judges on the November ballot.
  • Legislative leaders in Oklahoma have indicated that they will take up proposals to require senate confirmation of judicial appointments, move to partisan election of judges, and weaken or eliminate the judicial nominating commission.
  • In Tennessee, voters will decide whether to amend the constitution to institute a modified federal selection process for choosing state judges.
  • In Texas, where judges are chosen in partisan elections and straight-ticket voting is an option, a legislative committee will conduct an interim study of judicial selection and the merits of alternative systems, as authorized by legislation passed in 2013.
  • Legislatures in two states—Minnesota and Pennsylvania—will consider proposals to move from contested judicial elections to a commission-based appointment process.