Document Type



The scholarly debate about how to select state judges has been ongoing for decades; the public debate on the issue spans more than a century. Proponents on each side seem confident that their preferred method of judicial selection is the best. Reformers argued that, “judicial elections deserve the limelight in the variety show of threats to judicial independence.” Defenders of judicial elections have countered that judicial reformers are “waging war on democratic processes and the rights of citizens to maintain control over government.” The empirical evidence to date, however, has largely resulted in a draw. The more we learn about the actual performance of these systems, the more difficult it becomes to declare one or the other system the winner. The purpose of this article is not to settle this debate, but neither will I shy away from it. Instead, I discuss what we currently know about judicial selection in the American states and what it means for the future.


Judges – Election; Judges – Selection and appointment; United States


American Politics | Legal Studies | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Policy History, Theory, and Methods | Political Science

Publisher Citation

Gill, Rebecca D. 2013. "Beyond High Hopes and Unmet Expectations: Judicial Selection Reforms in the States," Judicature 96(6):278-295.

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