Vermont: for state’s judicial merit/commission system, bill would allow governor to ask for second list of nominees, but no more

Vermont’s constitution requires that for judicial vacancies, the governor appoints “from a list of nominees presented by a judicial nominating body established by the General Assembly having authority to apply reasonable standards of selection.” The nominee is then subject to Senate confirmation.

By law that body, the Judicial Nominating Board, can submit as few or as many names as it likes to the governor. Now under a bill introduced last week, the governor would be empowered to ask for a second list.

Under SB 114 as filed the governor can ask the Board “reopen the search and provide the Governor with an additional list of persons it deems well qualified to be appointed to the office.” Such a request “shall not be made more than once.”

This is just the latest in a series of bills that would attempt to give more lists with more names to governors. Examples include HB 866 of 2014 and SB 305 of 2014. Both included provisions that if a governor declined to accept a name from the first list provided by the Board, the Board would reopen the process to “persons who did not previously apply for that particular vacancy” and conduct as many rounds and provide as many lists as necessary until the governor accepted a name.

SB 114 has been filed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.