State Supreme Courts
State Courts are the workhorses of our judicial system. Ninety-five percent of cases in the United States are filed in state courts. That’s more than 100 million cases every year. And, because of that, state courts across the country have an outsized impact on our rights.
When most people think about the courts, it conjures up images of state trial courts. These are the courts that are shown most on TV and in movies; they are the courts where trials happen. But it’s the state supreme courts are often the final arbitrators of our civil rights, and these courts deliver decisions every day that impact our daily lives, from the air we breathe and the power of our votes to our rights as workers and our children’s safety in schools. In fact, state constitutions often grant us more rights and protections than the federal Constitution. It’s more important than ever to know how the judges who serve on our states’ highest courts are selected.
High court selection processes can vary drastically from state to state – check out the chart below! And despite the vastly different selection methods, people in every state can influence who is chosen for those courts. Use the chart below to learn more about the state supreme courts and how to maximize your impact on those courts. And make sure you talk to your friends and family about your state court! Your communities should know they have power to stand up for their rights.
- Non-partisan election
- Partisan election
- Governor selection
- Merit selection
- Governor selection, then retention election
- Legislative election
States to Keep an Eye On
The states below have an upcoming end of term on the court or are set to consider issues of national importance. This could mean a justice is retiring and voters will elect their replacement, there may be an open election for state supreme court, upcoming vacancies could impact the court’s majority, or that the court’s docket includes critical issues such as redistricting and voting rights. You’ll find an in-depth profile on the state including information on each justice, significant decisions by the Court , and what you need to know to shape your state supreme court.