Selection Process Impacts

Selection Process Impacts in the United States

Outcomes that stem directly from methods of judicial recruitment. Two kinds of impacts are typically discussed by those advocating one method of judicial selection over another. The first is the quality of the people chosen. Obviously, selection of professionally competent judges is a priority. Does one method of selection produce more “qualified” judges? Advocates of “merit” selection frequently make the quality argument. The few studies on the characteristics of those selected as judges are inconclusive, however. Rather, what these studies show is that there is little difference among selection systems in terms of personal characteristics of those chosen. Differences in such quality measures as educational background and prior judicial experience are negligible across the various selection techniques. The second impact most often discussed is the actual behavior of judges selected by one means as against another. The elective judge is presumably more attentive to public sentiment than a judge who does not need to face election. The idea, of course, is that selection systems create dynamics that must influence behavior. While no clear patterns have emerged from empirical studies, some differential impacts seem to exist at least to a limited degree. Judges selected by means of partisan election reflect that partisanship on issues which themselves have partisan content, such as legislative districting. Partisan impact is virtually irrelevant on issues that have no connection to partisanship. A clearer sense of differential selection impacts will develop with further study.

See Also

Executive Appointment (Judicial Personnel issue) Missouri Plan (Judicial Personnel issue) Partisan Election (Judicial Personnel issue).

Analysis and Relevance

The different judicial selection processes have not produced appreciably different consequences or impacts. In large part, this is a result of states using a combination of selection methods rather than just one. In elective states, for example, judicial vacancies that occur before a term is completed are filled by executive appointment. While this interim appointee ultimately must stand for election to retain the judgeship, is that judge in the appointed or elected category? In actual practice, judicial selection is conducted in similar ways in most states because of the overlapping of approaches. What is clear is that regardless of which selection system is used, judges retain their offices to an overwhelming degree; that is, incumbent judges are reappointed or reelected in virtually all cases. This is true even in Missouri Plan states. It is also apparent that whichever selection method is formally adopted, state governors possess more influence than any other process participant. The governor’s decisive role in executive appointment states is obvious. In elective states, however, gubernatorial influence is almost as great. Through interim appointments, governors typically fill most judicial vacancies. Virtually all interim appointees retain their judgeships in the elections that follow.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Selection Process Impacts from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Selection Process Impacts: 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 Selection Process Impacts. This part provides references, in relation to Selection Process Impacts, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Selection Process Impacts 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 Selection Process Impacts 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 Selection Process Impacts 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 Selection Process Impacts 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 Selection Process Impacts. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Selection Process Impacts 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 Selection Process Impacts when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

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