Gavel Grab

Calls to Maintain Merit Selection in Arizona

Legislation to end Arizona’s system of merit selection for appointing judges would “inject unnecessary and destructive partisan politics into the judicial system,”  according to an editorial in the Arizona Daily Star.

Under Senate Concurrent Resolution 1020, the governor would appoint judges, subject to Senate confirmation. Nominating commissions would no longer review candidates and submit a slate of potential nominees to the governor, as is currently the practice. While the resolution has only had its first reading, it has already  garnered opposition.

Arizona’s merit selection system has earned high praise from former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who says it has kept politics out of the courthouse. O’Connor also served as both a trial and appellate judge in Arizona.

Although the state initially held nonpartisan judicial elections, citizens voted to establish merit selection in 1974. Once appointed, judges face periodic retention elections. The Daily Star opinion adds:

Senate confirmations would push an agenda of a party or ideology and would dilute and diminish the independent judiciary, which should not be unduly influenced from the other branches of government.

Our state’s merit-selection and retention system help keeps the courts focused on the law, not politics. Senate confirmation of judges should not be allowed to infest our judiciary.

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