A Tournament of Judges?

32 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2003  

Stephen J. Choi

New York University School of Law

G. Mitu Gulati

Duke University School of Law

Abstract

We suggest a Tournament of Judges where the reward to the winner is elevation to the Supreme Court. Politics (and ideology) surely has a role to play in the selection of justices. However, the present level of partisan bickering has resulted in delays in judicial appointments as well as undermined the public's confidence in the objectivity of justices selected through such a partisan process. More significantly, much of the politicking is not transparent, often obscured with statements on a particular candidate's "merit" - casting a taint on all those who make their way through the judicial nomination process. We argue that the benefits from introducing more (and objective) competition among judges are potentially significant and the likely damage to judicial independence negligible. Among the criteria that could be used are opinion publication rates, citations of opinions by other courts, citations by the Supreme Court, citations by academics, dissent rates, speed of disposition of cases, reversal rates by en banc panels and the Court, and so on. Where political motivations drive the selection of an alternative candidate, our proposed system of objective criteria will make it more likely that such motivations are made transparent to the public. Just as important, a judicial tournament for selection to the Supreme Court will serve not only to select effective justices, but also to provide incentives to existing judges to exert effort.

Keywords: judges, federal court system, judicial nomination process

JEL Classification: K0, K4

Suggested Citation

Choi, Stephen J. and Gulati, G. Mitu, A Tournament of Judges?. California Law Review, January 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=394700 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.394700

Stephen J. Choi (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Gaurang Mitu Gulati

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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