Discovering the Best Method of Judicial Selection

How Should State Supreme Court Justices be Placed onto the Bench?


  • Aaron Shaw Gafari University of Colorado Boulder



Judicial Independence, Judicial Selection, Political Philosophy, Judicial Outcomes, State Courts, Judicial Accountability


As the American Judiciary becomes a more active vehicle for progressing policy and partisanship, this paper examines what method of judicial selection we ought to prefer. That is, how we should prefer that state supreme court justices get to the bench. To answer this question, I first analyze the empirical data surrounding each of the four main and general selection methods used across states today (partisan elections, nonpartisan elections, merit selection, and appointment) and identify what general trends exist. Once these trends have been established, I then move into a philosophical discussion that asks what trends we ought to prefer in a given selection method, and what traits we ought to avoid. The question ends up being one of whether we should advocate for an independent judiciary, or one accountable to public opinion. I advocate for the former and the most independent selection method: merit selection.

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How to Cite

Gafari, A. S. (2023). Discovering the Best Method of Judicial Selection: How Should State Supreme Court Justices be Placed onto the Bench?. University of Colorado Honors Journal, 140–141.



Social Science