Center for American Progress

Merit Selection and Retention Elections Keep Judges Out of Politics

Merit Selection and Retention Elections Keep Judges Out of Politics

A CAP Action report explains why merit-selection systems and retention elections are a good way to keep judges free from politicization of elections.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund today released “Merit Selection and Retention Elections Keep Judges Out of Politics,” a report describing why merit-selection systems—while imperfect—are a significant step in the right direction of ensuring that we have a judiciary comprising judges who are both well-qualified and more or less immune from political special interests. The CAP Action report argues that merit selection frees a potential judge from political influence by focusing on his or her qualifications, not on the ability to make deals with legislators or rake in campaign contributions. Retention elections subject judges to much less political pressure than contested elections and offer greater judicial independence. The judiciary is the only institution that can remedy violations of the constitution by the other branches of government. If judges are politically accountable, they cannot perform this crucial function.

This report is the third in a series on different policies that could help mitigate the influence of corporate campaign cash in judicial elections. The reports are intended for advocates or legislators who want to ensure our justice system works for everyone, not just those with enough money to donate.

Read the report here. (CAP Action)

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Billy Corriher

Deputy Director, Legal Progress