Arizona and Indiana: changing merit selection by statute, not constitutional amendment? Votes March 18

I’ve noted before the sort of odd situation going on in Arizona and separately in Indiana, namely state legislatures trying to alter merit selection systems established in the constitution via statue.

Arizona’s HB 2600: The state’s constitution (as I noted in this post) requires the state’s trial and appellate nominating commission provide “the names of not less than three persons” (appellate) or “not less than three individuals” (trial). Yet HB 2600 provides the commissions “shall submit to the governor the names of at least five persons… except that on a two-thirds vote, the commission may reject an applicant and submit fewer than five names.”

Indiana’s SB 103: Marcia Oddi of the Indiana Law Blog notes the state constitution provides “The Governor shall appoint to the commission three citizens, not admitted to the practice of law. The terms of office and compensation for members of a judicial nominating commission shall be fixed by the General Assembly.” The state’s implementing statute (IC 33-27-2-1) already restricts the governor’s picks requiring one from each of the state’s three court of appeals districts. SB 103 would add a further restriction: the three people named by the governor are to come from a list of recommended candidates submitted by the president pro tempore of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the minority leader of the senate, and the minority leader of the house of representatives. Oddi “wonders if it is constitutional”

The question is whether SB 103 would impose additional requirements on the selection by the Governor of the citizen members of the commission, beyond those outlined in the Constitution.

SB 103 would require the Governor to make his selection from “a list of recommended candidates” submitted by the House and Senate leadership.

Both bills will have key committee votes on March 18: Arizona HB 2600 before that state’s Senate Rules Committee and SB 103 before the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee.