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History of Reform Efforts: Idaho

Formal Changes Since Inception

1890
Under Idaho's original constitution, judges of the supreme court were elected by the people to six-year terms. Judges of the district courts were elected by the people to four-year terms.

1934
Amendment providing for nonpartisan election of judges approved by 67% of voters. The move to nonpartisan elections was the result of a pro-Democratic sweep in Idaho and the rest of the country in the early 1930s. After the defeat of two Republican incumbent justices in the 1932 elections, Idaho's Republican leadership pushed for a constitutional amendment mandating nonpartisan elections.

1967
Judicial council created; empowered to nominate candidates for interim vacancies and to make recommendations to the supreme court for the discipline, removal, or retirement of judges.

1980
Court of appeals created. Judges chosen in nonpartisan elections for six-year terms.

1982
Amendment allowed selection of supreme court chief justice by other justices.

2003
Law requires third parties involved in political campaigns to report any last-minute expenditures exceeding $1,000 within 48 hours. The law was recommended by a task force created after the 2002 judicial primary elections to look into the role that money plays in the election of Idaho judges. In the chief justice race, an independent group spent nearly $174,000 on a last-minute advertising blitz aimed at unseating Chief Justice Linda Copple-Trout.