University of Denver

Gubernatorial Appointment: How It Works

The sitting Governor is able to exercise his or her preference among the nominees identified and recommended by the Judicial Nominating Commission. That decision may, indeed, have partisan overtones because it is being made by an elected official who has a particular approach to judicial appointments. If the nominating commission has done its job, all nominees will be well qualified for the position.

It is important that the nominating process be honored and that the Governor’s choice be limited to nominees whose names come from that process. Furthermore, a finite time for the appointment is important so as to avoid the possible ‘limbo’ of nominations that stretch on indefinitely and become political bargaining chips. A finite time also assures that the nominees themselves are able to continue their practice, or their current position, with only a limited period of uncertainty. If the governor does not appoint one of the nominees within a certain period of time, another official (usually the chief justice of the state’s supreme court) is then authorized to appoint one of the nominees.

Accordingly, we recommend these three elements of the gubernatorial appointment process as better practices:

  • The Governor should be given an appropriately limited number of nominees for each position, and a limited time in which to make the appointment.
  • There should be a default provision in place should the Governor fail to act timely.
  • The Governor should not be allowed to make an appointment outside of the list of recommended nominees.

Click here for a list of states where the governor appoints judges.


Components of the O'Connor Judicial Selection Plan:

Judicial Nominating Commission

How It Works | States with Nominating Commissions

Gubernatorial Appointment

How It Works | States with Gubernatorial Appointment

Judicial Performance Evaluation

How It Works | States with Performance Evaluation

Retention Election

How It Works | States with Retention Elections