A Tournament of Judges?
Stephen J. Choi
New York University School of Law
G. Mitu Gulati
Duke University School of Law
California Law Review, January 2004
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: judges, federal court system, judicial nomination process
JEL Classification: K0, K4
Date posted: April 16, 2003