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State of Nebraska

History of Reform Efforts: Nebraska

Formal Changes Since Inception

1866
Supreme court justices elected by the people to six-year terms. District courts were convened by supreme court justices.

1875
District court judges elected by the people to four-year terms. County court judges elected by the people to two-year terms.

1909
Legislature adopted the Nonpartisan Judiciary Act, barring judicial candidates from being "nominated, indorsed, criticized, or referred to in any manner by any political party, convention, or primary." However, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the freedom of speech guaranteed by the state's constitution in State ex rel. Ragan v. Junkin 122 N.W. 473 (Neb. 1909).

1920
Terms of county court judges increased to four years.

1962
Merit selection is adopted by constitutional amendment for judges of the supreme court and district court. Judges stand for retention in the next general election held more than three years after their appointment and every six years thereafter.

1974
Merit selection is extended to county court judges. Judges stand for retention in the next general election held more than three years after their appointment and every six years thereafter.

1990
Voters approved a constitutional amendment creating the court of appeals, which began operating in 1991. Judges are chosen through merit selection, standing for retention in the next general election held more than three years after their appointment and every six years thereafter.