Select a State:

History of Reform Efforts

Opinion Polls and Surveys

Alabama

Judicial Selection in Alabama (February/1997)
According to a statewide survey of Alabamians, 44% favored merit selection, 26% preferred nonpartisan elections, 18% approved of partisan elections, and 13% were undecided.

Birmingham News (March/1997)
Of the 81% of respondent judges who supported changing the current elective system, 72% approved of nonpartisan elections. Responses were skewed along party lines, with nonpartisan elections heavily favored by judges who identified themselves as Democrats. 57% of respondents opposed a merit selection system. About half of the state's judges responded to the survey.

Mobile Register-University of South Alabama (March/2000)
85% of Alabamians believed electing judges is the best method. Between 80 and 85% of those polled did not know 11 of the 12 candidates who ran in 2000 for the Alabama Supreme Court.

Alabama Circuit Judges Association and District Judges Association (January/2001)
83% of members of these associations supported legislation switching from partisan to nonpartisan elections.

Alaska

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Alaska.

Arizona

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Arizona.

Arkansas

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Arkansas.

California

Justice at Stake Campaign (2001)
53% of California judges reported being dissatisfied with the tone and conduct of judicial campaigns, and 62% indicated that the situation had gotten worse over the past five years. 87% expressed concern that, because voters had little information about judicial candidates, judges were selected for reasons other than their qualifications. 53% supported a generic proposal for public financing of judicial campaigns.

Colorado

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Colorado.

Connecticut

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Connecticut.

Delaware

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Delaware.

District of Columbia

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in the District of Columbia.

Federal

N/A

Florida

Justice at Stake Campaign (2001)
60% of Florida judges reported that the tone and conduct of judicial campaigns have gotten worse over the last five years. 68% said they were under pressure to raise money for their campaigns during election years, and 30% believed campaign contributions made to judges have at least some influence on their decisions. 56% supported a generic proposal for public financing of judicial elections.

Georgia

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Georgia.

Hawaii

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Hawaii.

Idaho

Idaho Institute for Court Management (2002)
67% of Idaho voters believed that judges' decisions were influenced by campaign contributions. 40% indicated that judicial campaigns had gotten worse since 1998. 68% strongly supported merit selection and retention of judges. 60% favored publicly financed elections. 24% reported having no information about judicial candidates.

Illinois

Justice at Stake Campaign (2001)
72% of Illinois judges believed that the tone and conduct of judicial campaigns had gotten worse over the last five years. 69% supported a generic proposal for public financing of judicial campaigns. 91% were concerned that, because voters have little information about judicial candidates, judges are often selected for reasons other than their qualifications.

Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (2002)
More than 85% believed campaign contributions influence judicial decisions. Three out of four voters favored limits on campaign contributions to judicial candidates, and over 60% supported a voluntary system of public financing of judicial campaigns. 78% reported not having enough information about judicial candidates. Nearly 70% preferred nonpartisan elections to partisan elections.

We Ask America (2009)
Illinois voters preferred nonpartisan judicial elections by a margin of nearly three and a half to one. 83% said that education and experience were better qualifications for judicial candidates than political endorsements or backing.


Indiana

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Indiana.

Iowa

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Iowa.

Kansas

Federalist Society (November/2007)
55% of respondents believed that voters should have the greatest input into who serves on the Kansas Supreme Court. 63% supported changing the way that members of the supreme court nominating commission are selected.

Kentucky

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Kentucky.

Louisiana

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Louisiana.

Maine

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Maine.

Maryland

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Maryland.

Massachusetts

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Massachusetts.

Michigan

Michigan Campaign Finance Network (2009)
In a poll of 600 Michigan voters, 63% believed that campaign contributions affect the decisions judges make, with 31% saying campaign contributions make ‘a lot’ of difference.

Minnesota

Justice At Stake Campaign (2008)
59% of Minnesotans agreed that campaign contributions affect the decisions of Minnesota judges. 77% were concerned about judicial candidates having to raise campaign funds, run TV ads, and seek political party and special interest support. By a margin of 74% to 16%, respondents supported a constitutional amendment calling for merit selection of judges, judicial performance evaluations, and retention elections.

Mississippi

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Mississippi.

Missouri

Justice at Stake Campaign, Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, Missouri Institute for Justice (2007)
According to a statewide poll, 71% of Missourians supported the current system of judicial selection, and 73% wanted judges to be independent of elected officials like the governor and state legislature. Only 1 of every 50 respondents saw changing the way judges are selected as a top priority for state government.

Federalist Society (February/2007)
68% of respondents reported having trust and confidence that the Missouri Supreme Court makes decisions based on law rather than political beliefs. 65% supported changing the way that members of the appellate judicial commission are selected.

Federalist Society (September/2007)
65% of respondents supported changing the way that members of the appellate judicial commission are selected. 60% believed that the governor should be able to reject the first list of nominees and request a second list from the commission.

Montana

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Montana.

Nebraska

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Nebraska.

Nevada

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Nevada.

New Hampshire

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in New Hampshire.

New Jersey

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in New Jersey.

New Mexico

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in New Mexico.

New York

Justice at Stake Campaign (2001)
52% of New York judges reported that they were under pressure to raise campaign funds during election years, 68% strongly supported disclosure of campaign contributions, and nearly 74% favored a generic proposal for public financing of judicial elections.

Marist Institute for Public Opinion (2003)
83% of New Yorkers believed that campaign contributions have some or a great deal of influence on judicial decisions, and 87% stated that judges should not be allowed to hear cases involving campaign contributors. 79% of voters believed that having to run for reelection has at least some influence on judges' decisions, and 78% believed that poltical parties have a great deal or some influence. Click here for complete poll results.

North Carolina

North Carolina Center for Voter Education (2002)
84% of voters expressed concern that lawyers are some of the biggest contributors to judicial candidates, and 78% believed that campaign contributions have at least some influence on judges' decisions. 89% of voters wanted judicial elections to be conducted independently of political parties. 57% reported having little or no information about judicial candidates in the last election. 77% supported judicial reform in the general assembly before the 2004 elections, and 71% favored the proposals embodied in the Judicial Campaign Reform Act.

North Dakota

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in North Dakota.

Ohio

Justice at Stake Campaign (2001)
55% of Ohio judges reported being dissatisfied with the tone and conduct of judicial campaigns, and 81% indicated that the situation had gotten worse over the past five years. 75% expressed concern that special interests were trying to use the courts to shape policy. 57% supported a generic proposal for public financing of judicial elections.

League of Women Voters Survey (2002)
49% of voters believed that campaign contributions influence judges and judicial candidates to a great extent, and 34% believed that campaign contributions influenced judges and judicial candidates to some extent. 23% strongly agreed and 41% agreed that significant reform of the current judicial campaign finance system is required. 49% strongly agreed and 40% agreed that every source of financial support for judicial candidates should be fully disclosed.

Oklahoma

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Oklahoma.

Oregon

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Oregon.

Pennsylvania

Justice at Stake Campaign (2001)
64% of Pennsylvania judges reported being dissatisfied with the tone and conduct of judicial campaigns, and 69% indicated that the situation had gotten worse over the past five years. 72% expressed concern that special interests were trying to use the courts to shape policy. 59% supported a generic proposal for merit selection and retention of judges.

Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (2007)
According to a statewide survey, 56% of Pennsylvanians supported merit selection of state judges.

American Judicature Society/Committee for Economic Development/Justice at Stake Campaign (2010)
62% of respondents favored replacing partisan election of appellate judges with merit selection. 73% reported that they did not believe that the most qualified candidates win elections. 76% believed that campaign contributions influence judicial decision making.

Rhode Island

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Rhode Island.

South Carolina

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in South Carolina.

South Dakota

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in South Dakota.

Tennessee

Federalist Society (2008)
59% of respondents believed that voters should have the greatest input into who serves on the Tennessee Supreme Court. 47% disapproved of the state's merit-selection-and-retention system for supreme court justices.

Texas

Texas Poll (1997)
52% of respondents supported judicial elections, while only 14% supported an appointive system. Of those who favored electing judges, 62% preferred nonpartisan elections. 55% agreed that judges who are elected are more vulnerable to political pressure than are appointed judges. 72% believed judges' decisions in some cases were influenced by political pressure from campaign contributions.

Texas Supreme Court (1998)
83% of Texas citizens, 69% of court personnel, and 79% of Texas attorneys believed that campaign contributions influenced judicial decisions "very significantly" or "fairly significantly." In addition, 48% of judges indicated that they believed money had an impact on judicial decisions.

Texas Supreme Court/State Bar/OCA (1999)
42% of attorneys, 52% of judges, and 54% of court personnel preferred nonpartisan election of judges. Only 11% of attorneys, 21% of judges, and 26% of court personnel supported partisan elections as a means of selecting judges. 48% of judges, 69% of court personnel, and 79% of attorneys believed that campaign contributions had a "fairly" or "very" significant influence on judicial decisions.

Justice at Stake Campaign (2001)
50% of Texas judges reported being dissatisfied with the tone and conduct of judicial campaigns, and 28% believed that judicial campaign contributions had at least some influence on their decisions.

Campaigns for People (2002)
59% of Texas voters disagreed with the statement that "judges should be appointed, rather than elected, by the governor and legislature," with 45% strongly disagreeing. 83% of voters supported nonpartisan elections. 77% of voters believed campaign contributions to judges had a "great deal" or a "fair amount" of influence on their decisions. 73% favored a public financing proposal for judicial elections. 55% reported having little or no information regarding judicial candidates in the last election, and 86% supported voter guides for judicial elections.

Utah

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Utah.

Vermont

Vermont does not have a committee that monitors and comments on judicial campaign conduct.

Virginia

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Virginia.

Washington

American Judicature Society and Washington State University (2008)
26% of Washington voters rated nonpartisan judicial elections as a "good" or "very good" process for selecting judges, while 60% described a judicial merit selection system as "good" or "very good." More than 60% expressed a preference for adopting a merit selection system, and more than 90% supported the development of a judicial performance evaluation program.

West Virginia

Mark Blankenship Enterprises (2008)
According to a poll of a random sample of 600 voters, 37% of West Virginians preferred merit selection of judges, 36% favored nonpartisan judicial elections, and 19% approved of partisan elections.

Wisconsin

Justice at Stake Campaign (2008)
According to a statewide poll, 65% of Wisconsin voters supported a plan to offer public financing to qualified supreme court candidates. 77% agreed that the legislature and the governor needed to take action on judicial campaign reform before the next election.

Justice at Stake (July/2011)
According to a statewide poll, public confidence in the Wisconsin Supreme Court is 33%, and over 80% of respondents were aware of physical and verbal conflicts among justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Asked about their judicial selection system, 23% of respondents supported merit selection, with 18% undecided.

Wyoming

We have not identified recent opinion polls and surveys related to judicial selection in Wyoming.