Senate Passes Legislation To Amend Supreme Court Candidate Selection Process

Thomas P. Morahan

February 13, 2006

Senator Thomas P. MorahanannouncedNew York State Senate passage of legislation that would amend the way candidates for State Supreme Court Justices are selected, by abolishing political party nominations by a judicial district convention, and replacing it with a petition process that is similar to the selection process used by judges at the county level.

Action on the Senate bill came on the heels of a January 27, 2006 decision by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson that deemed the current selection process unconstitutional because the selection of candidates through political conventions can be tightly controlled by party voices, depriving voters of their say in the process.

"This bill clearly preserves the integrity of the process by including the public. Under the current system, the process is handled by delegates to a judicial district convention, who, in many cases, are controlled by party leaders.That process unfairly removes party voters from having a say in the selection, and it can potentially put Supreme Court nominations out of reach for several qualified candidates," said Senator Morahan.

Under this legislation, the direct primary method would be used to designate candidates for nomination, ensuring that qualified candidates who may not have the backing of party leaders have access to the ballot. By eliminating the conventions and allowing party voters to have direct input into who their party's candidate will be, the bill provides a process which is essentially the same as that used for County level judges and protects the constitutional rights of the voters and candidates.