Should Judges Be Elected? Appointed? Why Not Both?
By Ken K. Gourdin
Some time ago, in response to a story in the Salt Lake Tribune about news from a jurisdiction in which the state’s Supreme Court justices are elected rather than appointed, I commented thus:
While I understand the position of those who believe that direct election of judges best keeps them accountable to the people they serve, I think the Constitutional model of the Chief Executive nominating them and the Senate confirming them, with the people remaining free to choose other executives and senators if they feel the performance of either with respect to staffing the judiciary is inadequate, is the better system. I actually think Utah’s system of Executive nomination, Senate confirmation, and periodic retention elections is quite innovative and is the best of both worlds: It keeps members of the bench directly accountable to the people (at least, to the ones who bother to educate themselves and to vote) without creating too much of a revolving door in the judiciary.