The judicial selection debate continues. Merit selection is used by a majority of states but remains the least well understood method for choosing judges. Proponents claim that it emphasizes qualifications and diversity over politics, but there is little empirical evidence regarding its performance.
In Judicial Merit Selection, Greg Goelzhauser amasses a wealth of data to examine merit selection’s institutional performance from an internal perspective. While his previous book, Choosing State Supreme Court Justices, compares outcomes across selection mechanisms, here he delves into what makes merit selection unique—its use of nominating commissions to winnow applicants prior to gubernatorial appointment.
Goelzhauser’s analyses include a rich case study from inside a nominating commission’s proceedings as it works to choose nominees; the use of public records to examine which applicants commissions choose and which nominees governors choose; evaluation of which attorneys apply for consideration and which judges apply for promotion; and examination of whether design differences across systems impact performance in the seating of qualified and diverse judges.
The results have critical public policy implications.