Proposed Reforms to Texas Judicial Selection: Panelist Remarks
Fitzpatrick, Brian T.
I am going to set the stage by providing a little background about the various methods that States around the country use to select their judges. I am also going to remind us of many of the considerations that we like to think about when we are deciding which of these methods is best. And I am going to push upon you a new consideration that is sometimes not thought about in these discussions as well as share some data regarding this last consideration. But let's start with some background about the selection methods. There are basically four different ways that States select their judges around the country. The original method in all of the States was political appointment. Almost all the States did the same thing the federal government did from the beginning. And while some of them did not have life tenure, all the States relied either on the legislature, the executive, or both to pick their judges. A handful of States still follow the political appointment method today. In the early 1800s, States began to switch to partisan elections and away from political appointment; by the time of the civil war, the vast majority of States were using partisan elections to pick their judges. And today there are still quite a few States that use partisan elections to pick their judges. In the progressive era, after deciding that politics was a bad thing, States developed the idea of nonpartisan elections for judges-taking party identification off the ballot, And a number of States today are using non-partisan elections. It is close to the most popular method today.