Appellate Advocacy Blog

Editor: Tessa L. Dysart
The University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law

Monday, November 23, 2020

Elections have consequences for the bench

**See correction to Illinois**

Elections certainly have significant consequences for the federal bench, as the newly elected president will fill vacancies that occur throughout the country. But, in many states, there are elections for state court positions.  So, how did the state courts fair in the 2020 election?  Thanks to for great information.

Alabama--Alabama elected two persons to the state supreme court in partisan elections. Both are Republicans, and both were already serving terms on the Court and ran unopposed.

Alaska--Retained a justice for a nonpartisan position.

Arizona--Retained three justices.

Arkansas--Barbara Womack Webb won a seat on the state supreme court. Although the race is non-partisan, she is the wife of the state GOP chair.

Colorado--Retained two justices.

Florida--Retained one justice.

Georgia--Two justices were reelected to the court in non-partisan races, although have Republican ties.

Idaho--Two justice won reelection in non-partisan races (both had been appointed by the Republican governor).

Illinois--One Democrat and one Republican won seats in a partisan election. Thank you to the reader who notified me that an earlier version of this blog that said a justice was retained was incorrect. In fact, Justice Kilbride lost his retention election, becoming the first Illinois justice to do so.

Indiana--Retained one justice.

Iowa--Retained four justices.

Kansas--Retained one justice.

Kentucky--Elected one justice in a non-partisan election. He defeated a Democrat state representative who was running for the position.

Louisiana--Two seats were up in partisan elections. One Republican won, and for the second seat there will be a run-off between two Democrats.

Maryland--Retained three justices.

Michigan--In a 7 way race, two women won seats on the Michigan Supreme Court.  One was an incumbent and, although the race is non-partisan, both are Democrats.

Minnesota--One incumbent was reelected in a non-partisan race. He has ties to the Democrat-Farmer-Labor party.

Mississippi--Four incumbents won reelection in non-partisan races.

Missouri--One incumbent was retained.

Montana--One justice won reelection in a non-partisan race.

Nebraska--Two justices were retained.

Nevada--One justice won reelection in a non-partisan race.

New Mexico--Two Democrats won reelection to their seats in partisan races.

North Carolina--Like much of the rest of the state, some of the partisan judicial races in North Carolina are nail bitters.  Republican Paul Newby is ahead of Democrat Cheri Beasley by about 400 votes for the Chief Justice position. There will be a recount. Republicans lead in the other two races.  One was an open seat (the seat of Newby who is challenging incumbent Beasley) and won involved an incumbent Democrat losing.

North Dakota--One incumbent won in an uncontested, non-partisan election.

Ohio--In what Ballotpedia calls a non-partisan election, one Republican incumbent won her election while another lost.

Oklahoma--Five justices were retained.

Oregon--Three justices were reelected in non-partisan elections (only one was opposed).

South Dakota--One justice was retained.

Texas--Seven Republican incumbents won reelection in partisan races.

Utah--One justice was retained.

Washington--Four justices were reelected in non-partisan elections (only two ran opposed).

West Virginia--Two incumbents won reelection in non-partisan elections, while another person won a seat vacated by a retiring justice.

Wisconsin--Earlier this year, Justice Daniel Kelly lost to now-Justice Jill Karofsky. Kelly had been part of the conservative majority on the court, while Karofsky said she would be part of the liberal wing of the court.  Theoretically, the elections are non-partisan.

Wyoming--Two justices were retained.

If you have read this far, it seems like, as usual, there were no earth-shattering changes on the state supreme courts. The biggest change will be in North Carolina, if the election results don't change in a recount.











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