I Recommend: Judicial Merit Selection

by Gbemende E. Johnson

Judge Reads | Book Reviews

Judicial Merit Selection (click image to see publisher’s description)

Whether merit selection works is the key question that motivates Greg Goelzhauser’s innovative and timely inquiry in Judicial Merit Selection: Institutional Design and Performance for State Courts, the latest addition to the author’s extensive research on state judicial merit selection. As Goelzhauser explains, existing scholarship illuminates the way in which merit selection influences judicial outcomes; however, there is much we do not know about the process of merit selection. Goelzhauser, a political science professor at Utah State University, refers to this dearth as a “black box.” The substantial variation that accompanies constitutional and statutory design of merit selection systems also receives scant attention from scholars. Do some institutional specifications make certain merit selection systems more susceptible to capture, which could affect the system’s ability to deliver on things like the appointment of high-quality jurists? How does merit selection affect the applicant pools for judicial vacancies? These questions are particularly important given that “from 2000 through 2016 a plurality of justices to join state supreme courts for the first time did so via merit selection.”

Goelzhauser sheds new light on judicial merit selection processes and raises important questions for future researchers and provides a much-needed theoretical and empirical lens through which to examine the motivations and potential consequences of such institutional adjustments.

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Judicial Merit Selection: Institutional Design and Performance for State Courts
Book by: Greg Goelzhauser
Published by: Temple University Press (2019)
Available on Amazon

About Gbemende E. Johnson

Gbemende Johnson is an assistant professor of government at Hamilton College. Her research interests include American institutions, judicial politics, and executive branch politics, as well as race and politics and political theory. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from Vanderbilt University.