Resolution in Opposition to Commission-Based Judicial Selection


This model identifies insufficiencies of commission-based systems as a method of state judicial selection.

Resolution in Opposition to Commission-Based Judicial Selection

WHEREAS, research shows that commission-based systems of judicial appointment, known as “merit selection” or Missouri Plan systems, have proven to be highly political, non-transparent, and unaccountable;[1][2]

WHEREAS, the judicial nominating commissions hold the power in merit selection systems, limiting the choices of both the voters and their elected representatives;

WHEREAS, judicial nominating commissions operate with limited public accountability;

WHEREAS, judicial nominating commissions are dominated by insiders connected to state bar associations absent accountability from the political branches of government;

WHEREAS, it is vital that judges are independent from excessive influence by special interests or minority segments of the population;

WHEREAS, merit selection systems use up or down retention elections at the end of judicial terms in which judges are almost always retained, providing little accountability to either voters or other elected officials;[3]

WHEREAS, it is vital that judges are accountable at the end of their terms, through re-nomination or contested election by voters;

NOW THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED THAT, the American Legislative Exchange Council fully supports the abandonment of commission-based systems in the selection of judges both generally and as a means to fill interim vacancies.


[1] Bonneau, Chris W. “The Case for Partisan Judicial Elections,” The Federalist Society, January 2018.

[2] Fitzpatrick, Brian T. “The Case for Political Appointment of Judges.” The Federalist Society, April 2018.

[3] Hall, Melinda Gann, and Chris W. Bonneau. In Defense of Judicial Elections. Routledge, 2009.