Washington Supreme Court
Election (Nonpartisan)
9 Justices
6 year terms
State High Court Judicial Selection Process Legal Authority

  • Candidates are nominated in nonpartisan primary elections.
  • The two candidates who receive the highest number of votes are placed on the general election ballot unless one candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, in which case that candidate advances to the general election alone.
  • The candidate who receives the highest number of votes in the general election is elected to the Washington Supreme Court.
  • If two or more candidates receive the highest number of votes, the Governor publicly chooses by lot who is to be elected.

Interim Vacancies

  • If a vacancy occur in the office of a judge of the supreme court, the Governor shall only appoint a person to ensure the number of judges as specified by the legislature, to hold the office until the election and qualification of a judge to fill the vacancy, which election shall take place at the next succeeding general election, and the judge so elected shall hold the office for the remainder of the unexpired term.

    Docket Watch

  • Washington Supreme Court Rules on Attorney General’s Discretion to Enter Litigation in Two Landmark Cases

    The Washington Supreme Court in September issued two of its most highly-anticipated rulings in recent years. Continuing public controversy over federal health care law and the attorney general’s authority to join the states in a multi-state lawsuit challenging the law provided the backdrop to City of Seattle v. McKenna.1 The exercise of the eminent domain power and the attorney general’s discretion in representing state agencies is at issue inGoldmark v. McKenna.2 The pair of rulings addresses the Washington attorney general’s powers under the constitution and laws of Washington State—although opinions written by justices of the court raise their own questions about whether the scope of the attorney general’s powers were addressed consistently.

  • Washington Supreme Court Upholds School Funding Structure: Disparities in School Employee Pay Not Unconstitutional

    On November 12, 2009, the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously declined to declare as unconstitutional the state’s educational funding structure.1 The case asked whether the state legislature is constitutionally compelled to equalize state allocations to school districts for school employee salaries.

  • Judicial Election

    Judges are elected by popular vote.
  • Democratic Appointment

    Judges are appointed directly by a democratic body, or appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of some democratic body.