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Judicial Selection

Of all the difficult choices confronting societies in designing legal systems, among the most controversial are those pertaining to judicial selection and retention: how should a nation select its judges, and how long should jurists serve? Some of the most fervent constitutional debates on the institutional design of the judicial branch were not about power or competencies; instead, they focused on who would select and retain members of the judiciary. During the American Constitutional Convention, for example, the framers debated several methods of selection. Some delegates wanted Congress to appoint judges, and some wanted the chief executive to appoint them. Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804) proposed the compromise that the delegates ultimately accepted. The president nominates a federal judge, and the Senate offers its “advice and consent.”

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