Gubernatorial appointment of judges
Gubernatorial appointment of judges occurs in some form in 49 states. Most of these states require a commission to select nominees from which the governor chooses a new judge.
Governor appoints judges to all courts
In two states, the governor is responsible for appointing judges to serve on all courts. However, in both states, confirmation by an independent branch is necessary.
- Massachusetts: The governor's judicial nominations must be confirmed by the Governor's Council, also referred to as the Executive Council. It is comprised of eight concillors who are elected from separate districts every two years. 
- New Jersey The governor appoints judges, and those confirmations must be confirmed by the New Jersey Senate.
Governor appoints to some courts
In two states, the governor is responsible for appointing judges to serve on some courts.
- California: The governor appoints judges to the state appellate courts, the California Supreme Court and California Courts of Appeal. Before joining the court, a judge needs to be confirmed by the California Commission on Judicial Appointments. The governor also appoints judges to fill vacancies on the Superior Courts. Those nominations are not confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.
- Maine: The governor appoints judges to all levels of the courts, with the exception of the Probate Courts. All gubernatorial appointees must be confirmed by the Maine Senate before joining the court.
Commission selection and gubernatorial appointment
In twenty-two states, the governor appoints a judge after a nominating commission screens and interviews applicants. This method of selection is called commission-selection, political appointment. It is commonly referred to a merit selection.
The states which utilize this method are:
Appointing judges to vacancies
In 48 states, the governor appoints judges to fill vacancies on the courts. Some states have constitutionally mandated nominating commissions, some are formed by a governor, while some states allow the governor to make an appointment without any advice or consent. Only in Illinois and Louisiana do governors not appoint judges to fill vacancies.
- In Virginia, judges are elected in legislative elections. The governor may only appoint a judge to fill a vacancy if the legislature has completed its session without electing a judge.
To learn more about judicial appointment made by current governors, see the Appointing Governors Project.
- Non-partisan election of judges
- Partisan election of judges
- Legislative election of judges
- Commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection