Created in 1977 by an amendment to the New York State Constitution, the Commission on Judicial Nomination plays an important role in our State’s government: its purpose is to see that the judges who sit on New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, are chosen from candidates who reflect the diversity of New York’s citizenry and are among the State’s most highly qualified and accomplished judges, practicing lawyers and legal scholars. Since its inception, the Commission has fulfilled this function by nominating to the Governor a small number of carefully considered candidates to fill vacancies on the Court of Appeals. The Commission’s mandate is a powerful one: the Constitution requires that the Governor choose Judges of the Court of Appeals only from the nominees of the Commission.
Background on the Court of Appeals
The Commission’s mandate reflects the importance of the Court of Appeals itself. In addition to being the highest court of the State of New York, the Court of Appeals is considered to be one of the most significant courts in the country. It plays a key role not only in interpreting the law of the State of New York, but in shaping precedent across the nation.
The Court of Appeals consists of a Chief Judge and six Associate Judges, each of whom is appointed for a fourteen-year term and is subject to mandatory retirement at age 70. The Judges of the Court collectively decide all motions and appeals before them, thus demanding from the members of the Court not only legal excellence but also collegiality and a commitment to consensus-building. Since much of the Court’s caseload is selected by the Court itself through motions for leave to appeal, the Court is able to concentrate on the most important appeals.
The Commission's Mandate
The State Constitution mandates that the Commission nominate candidates for the Court of Appeals on the basis of merit. The statutorily-prescribed composition of the Commission, as well as the rules and regulations governing its selection procedures, ensure that the Governor is provided with nominees who are well qualified to serve on the Court of Appeals. The Commission is committed to considering nominees for the Court of Appeals with outstanding personal and professional qualifications who reflect the diversity of New York's citizenry including, but not limited to, diversity in race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, community service, nature of legal practice or professional background and geography