Florida Amendment 3: 26 states give the governor a role in selecting appellate judges

At issue in Florida’s Amendment 3 is whether a governor should be allowed to “prospectively appoint” justices of the state’s supreme court and judges of its district court of appeals. The key provision is an amendment to Art. V, Sec. 11 by adding the following as 11(a)(2)

Whenever a prospective vacancy occurs in a judicial office for which election for retention applies, the governor shall fill the prospective vacancy by appointing a justice or judge from among at least three persons but not more than six persons nominated by the appropriate judicial nominating commission. The term of the appointment commences upon the expiration of the term of the office being vacated and ends on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January of the year following the next general election.

As I noted back on September 2 in the context of Tennessee’s Amendment 2, most states (26/50) give the governor a role in appointing judges/justices of the court of last resort. When it comes to the intermediate appellate courts, less than a majority well give the governor a role (18/40; 10 states don’t have such courts).

Supreme Courts/Courts of Last Resort

  • Governor free to pick (3): California, Maine, New Jersey
  • Governor must pick from commission list (18): Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming
  • Governor may pick from commission list but isn’t obligated to (5): Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Tennessee

Courts of Appeals/Intermediate Appellate Courts

  • Governor free to pick (2): California, Kansas
  • Governor free to elevate judge from lower court (1): New York (Appellate Divisions; judges of the Appellate Terms chosen in other fashion)
  • Governor must pick from commission list (12): Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah
  • Governor may pick from commission list but isn’t obligated to (3):  Maryland, Massachusetts, Tennessee

 

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