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State of Minnesota

Judicial Selection in the States: Minnesota

Overview

News

I mentioned in the last post on Arkansas Issue 1 that most states elect the clerks of their general jurisdiction courts. In all, a total...

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On the ballot this November in Arkansas is Issue 1, a constitutional amendment that would make several changes to the terms, election, and eligibility of...

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The Oklahoma Senate yesterday approved its version of HB 3162, a constitutional amendment that would restructure the way appellate judges are chosen in the state...

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Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...

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The Minnesota judiciary consists of the supreme court, the court of appeals, and the district court. According to the constitution, judges are chosen in nonpartisan elections, but many judges resign before their terms end, allowing the governor to appoint their replacements.

Until 2002, Minnesota's code of judicial conduct prohibited judges and judicial candidates from seeking or accepting political endorsements, discussing their views on disputed legal and political issues, and soliciting campaign contributions. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 2005 struck down these provisions as violations of the First Amendment. Supporters of the decisions assert that allowing judicial candidates to share their views will provide voters with much needed information, but critics worry that it will threaten judge's impartiality. In 2007, a citizens commission headed by Governor Al Quie recommended that the state change its process for selecting judges from contested elections to a merit-based gubernatorial appointment system, and that the state adopt a judicial performance evaluation program for judges.