Judges at the state and federal level are appointed or elected in different ways. At the federal level, judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, while at the state level, judges can be appointed by the governor or state legislature, selected through a merit-based system, or elected through partisan or nonpartisan elections.
This series discussed the American judicial system. Most importantly, this conversation discussed the American judicial system, the role of a judge, different types of courts, and the different methods of becoming a Judge in the United States. Without further ado, let’s dive right into it.
First, let’s briefly talk about the roles of a judge so you know what to expect from them when that time comes.
The role of a judge varies depending on whether he is a state court or a federal court judge. A state court judge conducts fair trials, writes and passes judgements to decide if a person is guilty or innocent. On the other hand, a federal judge decides on issues affecting the lives of every American, including basic civil rights, religious freedoms, voting rights, affirmative action, and in some cases; life or death.
Now, let’s talk about the composition of the American judicial system, especially, the different types of courts at both the state and federal levels.
The American court system is composed of state and federal courts. State courts are made up of County and Circuit courts, District Courts of Appeals and State Supreme Courts. The federal court system consists of U.S. district courts, U.S. Court of Appeals, and a federal Supreme Court. Although federal courts are located in states, they only hear matters related to the federal government.
Ok, now, how does someone get to become a judge to conduct fair trials, write and pass judgements to decide if a person is guilty or innocent?
The methods of becoming a judge in the United States are by election, appointment, and retention. At the state level, judges are either elected by the people or appointed by the governor or the state legislature. At the federal level, especially at the Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate.
Judges are appointed by state governors and confirmed by the state legislature or the governor’s council. This is the Gubernatorial appointment method. They are elected by state legislatures with no input from either the governor or the electorate. This is called Legislative election and a handful of states apply this method.
There is a third method called the Merit Selection. In this method, state legislatures or legislative committees convene boards to examine and select judges based on their past performance. Some states hold “retention elections” to determine if a judge should continue to serve.
The other two methods are partisan and nonpartisan elections. In the partisan elections, the people or state residents vote for their judges based on their political affiliation. In this instance, these judges represent their political party and will likely decide in ways to promote their political party agenda. In nonpartisan elections, potential judges put their names on the ballot, but do not list their political party.
In summary, Judges at the state and federal level are appointed or elected in different ways. At the federal level, judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, while at the state level, judges can be appointed by the governor or state legislature, selected through a merit-based system, or elected through partisan or nonpartisan elections. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, while those appointed or elected to lower jurisdictions serve for 6 to 10 years. Moreover, individuals interested in becoming a judge must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as having a certain amount of experience in the legal field and passing a background check.