Some of the judges in USA are elected positions.

In those cases, there are 4 options:

  1. Position is elected for life
  2. Position is elected for a term and the person can't run again
  3. Position is elected for a term, and at the end of the term the judge has to be "re-approved" by voters without having to stand for a competitive election.
  4. At the end of the term, the judge has to stand in a competitive election, the way most legislators do.

Are there any localities and judicial positions in USA which are elected and are of the model #4 (e.g. the judge has to stand for regular competitive election at the end of the term)?

  • IIRC, judges in the state of MN have to run for re-election every 6 years.
    – user1530
    Jul 9, 2013 at 18:37

3 Answers 3


The Michigan Supreme Court justices are elected for terms of 8 years. This would be an example of the highest court in the U.S. (tied with all other state supreme courts) with elected judges, as all federal judges are appointed.

from the Michigan Constitution:

The Supreme Court consists of seven justices nominated at party conventions and elected at a non-partisan general election.


There are SOME cases where judges have to run for competitive re-election, but they don't seem to constitute the majority. As an example, in Pennsylvania:


Running for Retention and Re-election

  • The merit retention provision of Pennsylvania's constitution allows all but magisterial district judges to be retained with a simple "yes" or "no" vote without ballot reference to political affiliation. This provision was designed to remove judges from the pressures of the political arena once they begin their first term of office.
  • Magisterial district judges run in competitive elections.
  • And the downvote is because?
    – user4012
    Jul 9, 2013 at 15:41

Yes, Maryland's circuit court judges are subject to contested reelections

Since 1970, Maryland governors have adopted executive orders creating judicial nominating commissions to recommend candidates for appointment. Appellate judges keep their seats through retention elections, but circuit court judges run in contested, nonpartisan elections. [...]

Circuit court judges are usually unopposed for reelection. For example, before 2002, there had been no opposition to incumbent circuit judges in Montgomery County since 1986 and no contested general election races since 1958. [...]

The committee conducted similar campaigns when Montgomery County circuit court judges were opposed in 1970, 1974, 1984, and 1986.

  • BTW, I didn't mean that judges have campains vs other judges in general. What happens in states that have retention elections is that judges that want to replace another judge try to make sure that the sitting judge isn't retained (possibly by running negative ads), and then get appointed by judge, elected, etc. This would stand as a good resouce to answer the other question
    – user1873
    Jul 9, 2013 at 16:03

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