« Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 3 opinion(s) today (and 5 NFP memorandum decision(s)) | Main | Ind. Gov't. - More on: Former Columbus mayor files public records suit against the man she named chief of police" »

Friday, March 03, 2017

Ind. Courts - Filling the Vacancy on the Indiana Supreme Court: What to Expect Today and Beyond

This analysis was prepared by Indiana University-Robert H. McKinney School of Law professor Joel Schumm.

Shortly after the noon deadline for applications to fill Justice Rucker’s vacancy on the Indiana Supreme Court, we can expect a press release listing the names of the applicants.

The number is expected to be low, in a process that has recently drew an average of 25 applicants.

The applicant pool this decade has been gender diverse—more than half of the applicants have been women—but the pool has been overwhelmingly (95%) Caucasian.

Some applicants will have applied in the past, a topic explored in a post from 2012. Interestingly, though, Justice Slaughter is the only justice in the merit selection era who was not appointed on his first application.

Most applicants will be Republicans. The merit selection system was established to be non-partisan, but the applicants have always skewed heavily to the political party of the Governor who will make the appointment. Three of the seven members of the Commission are appointed by the Governor, which helps ensure a strong voice for nominees preferred by the Governor—with one caveat. Because Commission members serve for three years, the terms of some will extend to the next administration. Indeed, the three lay members of the Commission (Rudy Yakym, Lynette Long, and Molly Kitchell) were appointed by Governor Pence.

The Indiana Supreme Court has a long history of unanimous, non-partisan decisions. I don’t anticipate that changing, whether Governor Holcomb appoints a Republican or Democrat, but the perception of some may change after this appointment. For the first time since merit selection was adopted in 1970, the five justices of the Indiana Supreme Court will all have been appointed by Governors of the same political party.

The ILB has provided extensive analysis and commentary (including summaries of every applicant’s interview) for the past four vacancies. The hundreds of blog posts are organized by vacancy and accessible through the links “Vacancy on Supreme Court” to the right.

We plan to provide the same coverage for this vacancy, beginning this afternoon with analysis of the list of applicants.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 3, 2017 09:26 AM
Posted to Vacancy on Supreme Court - 2017