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State of Minnesota

Judicial Selection in the States: Minnesota

Overview

News

A constitutional amendment discussed here and here to give Delaware s governor and senate more time to consider judicial nominations cleared its final hurdle. With...

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A plan discussed here to create publicly funded public forums to hear from candidates for Montana s non-partisan Supreme Court races is dead for the...

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A constitutional amendment discussed here to give Delaware s governor and senate more time to consider judicial nominations cleared the Senate last week. With House...

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Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...

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The Minnesota judiciary consists of the supreme court, the court of appeals, and the district court. According to the constitution, judges are chosen in nonpartisan elections, but many judges resign before their terms end, allowing the governor to appoint their replacements.

Until 2002, Minnesota's code of judicial conduct prohibited judges and judicial candidates from seeking or accepting political endorsements, discussing their views on disputed legal and political issues, and soliciting campaign contributions. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 2005 struck down these provisions as violations of the First Amendment. Supporters of the decisions assert that allowing judicial candidates to share their views will provide voters with much needed information, but critics worry that it will threaten judge's impartiality. In 2007, a citizens commission headed by Governor Al Quie recommended that the state change its process for selecting judges from contested elections to a merit-based gubernatorial appointment system, and that the state adopt a judicial performance evaluation program for judges.