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State of Michigan

History of Reform Efforts: Michigan

Formal Changes Since Inception

1836
Supreme court justices appointed by the governor with senate consent to seven-year terms. Circuit court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1850
Supreme court justices elected by the people to eight-year terms. Circuit court judges elected to six-year terms.

1908
Legislature passed law allowing political parties to nominate supreme court candidates at party conventions.

1939
Constitutional amendment called for nonpartisan nomination and election of judges, except that supreme court justices would continue to be nominated at party conventions, and for incumbents to be designated on the ballot.

1963
New constitution provided that judicial vacancies would be filled by special election and that only judges who had been elected would be designated as incumbents on the ballot. Also provided for the election of the chief justice by the court rather than by the voters, allowed incumbent judges to bypass the nomination process by filing an affidavit of candidacy, and created the court of appeals.

1968
Constitutional amendment restored the power of the governor to fill judicial vacancies and the incumbent designation on the ballot for all judges.

1996
Voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring judges to have practiced law for at least five years.