Careful What You Wish for: Tough Questions, Honest Answers, and Innovative Approaches to Appointive Judicial Selection
CUNY School of Law
Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 34, p. 473, 2007
Judicial selection is a perennially hot topic. For as long as there have been judges, there have been controversies about the ways they are selected. The debate, reduced to its essence, centers primarily upon whether judges should be elected or appointed. Typically, elections are preferred by those who focus on the importance of judicial accountability to the citizenry, while appointments are favored by those who elevate the goal of judicial independence.
This Essay aims to "critically appraise" appointive selection - what exactly are the component parts of a gold standard appointive system? Informed in significant part by the author’s personal experience on a “merit selection” committee, the essay examines in greater detail some of the common features of appointive systems - such as the composition and procedures of the nominating commission - and raises issues, concerns, and questions in the process. Given the crucial nature of the judicial function, the ultimate question must always be whether there is anyone in the pool of available applicants who might perform better than the candidate currently under consideration, whether she is applying for initial appointment or is a sitting judge seeking to be reappointed. While that is sure to rankle many, the question sets an appropriately high standard for such an important job and signals in clear and certain terms that we take seriously our obligation to devise and implement an appointive system most likely to yield as outstanding a judiciary as possible.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 10
Keywords: judicial selection, appointive selection, judicial electionsAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 3, 2011
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