Lawsuit Reform

Website Explains Judicial Selection

by Maureen Wagner

In recent years, the debate over the best method for choosing judges has captured an increasing amount of attention. In response to the growing interest in this issue, The Federalist Society created to serve as an impartial source of information and educational materials for those interested in this topic, including state legislators, policymakers, opinion leaders, and the public at large.

As the site explains, there are four main methods of judicial selection: judicial elections (22 states), democratic appointment (5 states), the Missouri Plan (13 states), and some hybrid of those methods (10 states).

More and more legislators in state houses across the country are looking at those options and debating whether their own state should amend or change their method of selection. In just the past two years, several state legislatures (including FloridaMissouriMontanaNorth Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee) have considered legislation that would alter their method of selection, while other states (such as Nebraska) have considered measures to evaluate their method of selection.  This spring, legislators in Tennessee received national attention when they voted to pass a constitutional amendment that would change the state’s method from Missouri Plan to democratic appointment.  (Note: the amendment has to be approved by both chambers again in the next two-year General Assembly and then put on the ballot and passed by voters in 2014 in order to take effect.)

The debate has also been followed by experts and policymakers an all sides, and the topic has been editorialized in the Wall Street JournalNational Review Online, and national figures (such as retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor) continue to weigh in.

The purpose of is to provide a one-stop resource for anyone interested in the subject of state judicial selection.

Its features include:

We hope the site will be valuable resource.  If you have any questions about the site or the subject of judicial selection in the states, please contact me at the e-mail address below.

Maureen Wagner, Esq. is Deputy Director of the State Courts Project at The Federalist Society.  She can be reached at


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