2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

Merits of the Merit Plan
Daniel N. Hammond
Dr. John Quinn, Faculty Mentor

Since the 1940s, many U.S. states have implemented a method of selecting judges known as the Merit Plan. Here, judicial candidates submit applications for a vacancy to a nonpartisan committee, which sends the top three to the governor to choose a finalist. This differs from four other traditional methods of judicial selection (elections, partisan and non-partisan, and appointments, legislative and gubernatorial). This paper tests the hypothesis that states using the Merit Plan should appoint the highest quality judges. Unlike prior research, I measure this by the frequency with which the U.S. Supreme Court reverses judges rulings. Using logit regression analysis on a random sample, and controlling for other variables, I find that courts in states with gubernatorial appointments exhibit the lowest reversal rates and states with the Merit Plan had the second lowest reversal rates. Thus, the hypothesis is only partially supported that the Merit Plan selects judges of merit.

Keywords: Judges, Selection Method, U.S. Courts, Judiciary, Law, Legal System

Topic(s):Political Science

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 42-5
Location: MG 2090
Time: 2:15

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