Proposition 115 would make significant changes to the process by which Arizona Supreme Court justices, appeals court judges and Superior Court judges in three counties are selected.
The proposed amendment would affect judgeships in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties, as the state's three largest. Superior Court judges in the other 12 counties are elected.
The amendment would give the governor more authority and the State Bar of Arizona less authority in appointing members of the judicial commissions that review judgeship applications and send the governor candidate lists.
It also would require that the commissions send the governor at least eight names for each opening, rather than the current minimum of three, it would move judgeship retirement age from 70 to 75 and would extend judgeship terms from four years to eight.
Proponents say Arizona's strong merit selection system will be made stronger by these changes, allowing good judges to stay on the bench longer and giving the governor more names of qualified lawyers to consider for judgeships.
Opponents say the proposition makes unnecessary changes and introduces more politics to a system that is considered among the best in the country for its separation from raw politics. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," said Tucson lawyer JoJene Mills, chair of the No on 115 committee.
Others say the measure made the ballot with concurrence of the state judges' association and the state bar as a compromise, because legislators said they would push a return to judgeship elections.