Judicial Selection Methods for Courts of Last Resort Across the States*
Judicial Selection Methods map. long description of map

Choosing Autonomy or Accountability? Federal judges, all of whom are selected by the President and confirmed by the Senate, serve for life. The rationale of the writers of the U.S. Constitution was that this selection method would divorce judges from politics and best promote the interests of justice. At the other extreme almost all the judges in state and local jurisdictions in Texas are chosen in unambiguously partisan elections. The argument for this selection method was that to best serve the interests of justice the public must be able to hold judges accountable for their decisions. Most states try to balance the ideals of autonomy and accountability represented by these opposites. Many states apply different methods to selecting and retaining judges at different levels. This map shows only the methods of initial selection for the highest courts in each state. A full accounting of judicial selection methods would show even more diversity.

Source: American Judicature Society. (full source, footnote)