State supreme court justices play a considerable role in interpreting state laws and making common law, with over 250 in the United States. While federal judges are subject to nomination by the president and confirmation by the Senate, state supreme court justices are selected through a variety of different methods.

Why do different states use different methods of selections for their supreme court justices? Prof. Chris Bonneau of the University of Pittsburgh and Prof. Brian Fitzpatrick of Vanderbilt Law School explore the history of state judicial selection methods in the United States.

As always, the Federalist Society takes no particular legal or public policy positions. All opinions expressed are those of the speakers.

Learn more about Chris Bonneau:

Learn more about Brian Fitzpatrick:


Related Links & Differing Views:

Visit the Federalist Society’s State Courts Guide

Ballotpedia: “Judicial selection in the states”

National Center for State Courts: “Methods of Judicial Selection”

Villanova Law Review: “Historical Overview of the Judicial Selection Process in the United States: IS the Electoral System in Pennsylvania Unjustified?”

Vanderbilt Law Review: “The Ideological Consequences of Selection: A Nationwide Study of the Methods of Selecting Judges”

The Federalist Society: “The Case for Partisan Judicial Elections”

Daedalus: “Methods of Judicial Selection and Their Impact on Judicial Independence”