Reflections on Arizona’s Judicial Selection Process

Using Arizona as a case study, this Essay examines the history of changes in state judicial-selection rationales, methods, and practices. It outlines Arizona’s journey from contested elections to a hybrid merit-selection system featuring appointments and retention elections, and compares this experience to that of states that have continued with a pure election system. The Essay explores the purported tension between judicial accountability and judicial independence and argues that Arizona’s experience demonstrates both the falsity of that dichotomy and the superiority of a hybrid merit-selection system in simultaneously promoting accountability, independence, competency, and fairness.