Nebraska legislative study of merit selection would seek to strengthen system, provide more citizen engagement

May 31st, 2011 by Bill Raftery Leave a reply »

I mentioned last week Nebraska’s LR 283, directing the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee “to conduct an interim study to examine issues surrounding judicial independence including, but not limited to, Nebraska’s current method of judicial retention”. Given the massive legislative interest disassembling merit selection systems in other states, I noted it “could beĀ  innocuous, or setting the state for such a challenge/change in 2012.”

LR 283′s author, State Senator Danielle Conrad sent me a wonderful email while I was on vacation indicating the LR’s purpose was not to tear down the state’s merit selection system(s), but derived from an interest in strengthening the system. The Senator noted this January 2011 article from The Nebraska Lawyer that include thoughts about improving the retention vote system, including “more significant education about the judicial branch” in schools, more information for voters, and improvement in the quality of information available to the voting public.

In a year in which almost every state that has merit selection at least looked (legislatively speaking, see special edition here highlighting the state of merit selection as of mid-April) at changing it or ending it, Nebraska (along with Indiana) may be the only two states looking to buttress their existing systems.