Senator John DeFrancisco of New York's 50th District will be in Boston tomorrow on a panel at the National Conference of State Legislature's Annual Meeting. DeFrancisco is slated to join researchers from the American Judicature Society and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, along with other legislators and judges, in a discussion of judicial selection methods around the country.
DeFrancisco, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been a key player in conversations about how to bring the state's system of selecting Supreme Court judges in line with the decision invalidating New York's judicial nominating conventions.
The Senator sponsored a bill that is modeled on the system of conventions and primaries already in place for all statewide elected offices in New York. Designating conventions would occur in the spring. All Supreme Court candidates with more than 50 percent of the delegate vote would be designated as the party's potential nominees. Candidates receiving 25 percent of the delegate vote would earn an automatic spot on a September primary ballot. Most fundamentally, candidates with grass-roots support could force a primary by gathering petition signatures among the voters.
That system, familiar to all in New York state politics, gives parties and their leaders a role -- but if a candidate can muster support, it gives rank-and-file voters the final say.
Along with open primaries, DeFrancisco's model would rectify the problems inherent in the current system, so we look forward to hearing what he has to share with the NCSL audience!