Legislative Appointment

Legislative Appointment in the United States

A technique of judicial selection used in several states. The legislative appointment process involves the nomination of a prospective judge by the legislative body itself. If the nominee receives the votes of a majority of one or both chambers of the legislature, he or she stands appointed. The colonists had first-hand experience with a Judiciary (Judicial Personnel issue) under the control of an arbitrary monarch, and following the War of Independence many wished to place judicial selection in the hands of the legislative rather than executive branch. Indeed, legislative selection was the method of preference among most states during the period 1776-1830, with almost half the states using it. The popularity of legislative selection (and executive appointment as well) diminished greatly in the wake of Jacksonian democracy. Many of the states wished to increase the role of the people in governance, and they replaced legislative selection with direct election of judges. Only South Carolina and Virginia continue to use legislative choice as their principle method of selecting judges.

See Also

Executive Appointment (Judicial Personnel issue) Judicial Independence (Judicial Personnel issue).

Analysis and Relevance

The legislative appointment method of judicial selection could not withstand the pressure of popular sovereignty. Andrew Jackson sought to reform the judicial processes by making them more accountable to popular control. One of the consequences was that many states turned to election, initially partisan election, as the preferred method of judicial selection. In addition, people in some states became displeased with attempted legislative control. As state courts began to have an impact on state policies, some legislatures began to engage in power politics. Limits on judicial terms were enacted; more important, unpopular judicial decisions prompted attempts to remove judges. In short, many saw certain state legislative action as too strong, and steps were taken to curb such conduct. Taking judicial selection out of the hands of legislatures was one such step. Where legislative appointment was retained, two patterns emerged. First, prior legislative service became key to judicial appointment. Second, in legislative appointment states, party influence in judicial selection became substantial while the influence of the legal profession was minimal.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Legislative Appointment from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Legislative Appointment: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Legislative Appointment. This part provides references, in relation to Legislative Appointment, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Legislative Appointment by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Legislative Appointment and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Legislative Appointment or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Legislative Appointment and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Legislative Appointment. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Legislative Appointment should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Legislative Appointment when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

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  1. Legislative Branch Sites Resources

    You can also get government document information from the websites of the government branches.

    The United States Capitol
    The U.S. Capitol building’s architecture, history, and works of art, including painting and sculpture; the office of the Architect of the Capitol. Officially Mandated

    The United States Senate Home Page

    The United States House of Representatives Home Page

    The Library of Congress
    Library of Congress Exhibits, The Library of Congress Online Catalog , Federal Research Division Country Studies American Memory Project, including 4000 photographs searchable by keyword or subject. Collections include Selected Civil War Photographs, The VanVechten Portrait Collection, and the Farm Services Administration/Office of War Information Collection. Officially Mandated.

    American Memory Project
    Historical collections for LC’s National Digital Library.

    Legislative Information

    Federal Election Commission

    John C.Stennis Center for Public Service
    The John C. Stennis Center for Public Service was created by Congress to promote and strengthen public service in America.

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