From a separation of powers standpoint, many state constitutions provide that an individual serving in one branch of government cannot simultaneously serve in another. In some states this is taken to the even further extreme of resign-to-run provisions, requiring an individual quit their current position before running for another.
Alabama’s HB 550, however, may have taken this to a new realm. The bill prohibits members of the legislature from being appointed to judgeships within 2 years of their legislative service (there’s no comment about being independently elected).
While bans on serving in judgeships are not unheard of, they are rare and are usually directed at people who have a role in the appointment of judges. Take for example South Carolina, where judges are appointed by the legislature after being reviewed by Judicial Merit Selection Commission made up of legislators and non-legislators. Commission members in particular (S.C. Code Ann. § 2-19-10 (G)) and legislators in general (S.C. Code Ann. § 2-19-70 (A)) are prohibited from being appointed to a judgeship for one year after their service on the commission and/or in the legislature.
Alabama HB 550 is currently pending in the House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee.
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