State Courts: Selection & Retention

While the national spotlight is focused on the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy and questions surrounding the appointment process, states vary in their methods of judicial selection. In 15 states, unexpired supreme court terms are filled via gubernatorial appointments with no other consent needed. Thirty-four states call for gubernatorial appointments with consent of another body, be it legislature or nominating commission. One state, South Carolina, fills unexpired terms through legislative appointment.

Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, many states allow justices to be elected by the people. Twenty-two states hold statewide elections for supreme court justices. Of those 22 states, 13 hold non-partisan elections. Twenty-six states use some form of gubernatorial appointment process to fill full terms and two use legislative appointment.