Every time there is a political uproar over the judicial selection process, fans of depoliticizing judicial appointments point to so-called “merit selection” as the best way to pick a judiciary. But is it?

California Gov. Gray Davis’ “my way or the highway” aspirational message to California’s judges came during the same week and in the same city as the American Judicature Society’s midyear meeting in Washington, D.C. The governor’s tirade against ideological deviants on the bench played counterpoint to the Society’s discussions about judicial independence and its own proposals for filling the nation’s 25,000-plus state court judicial posts.