A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Adams v. Governor of Delaware, upheld a prior ruling which found unconstitutional a provision in the Delaware State Constitution that mandates a balance between Republicans and Democrats on the state bench in connection with the appointment of judges by the Governor. The most recent ruling by the federal appeals court upheld a prior panel decision from February 2019, which found unconstitutional the provisions in the state constitution requiring that appointments to the bench by the Governor cannot result in a majority of more than one Republican or one Democrat on the court. Nor was the provision saved as a narrow exception to the First Amendment applicable to “policy-makers”, which would allow party affiliation to be taken into account when considering applicants for certain governmental positions.
It was not clear as of this writing whether the Governor would attempt to appeal the Third Circuit decision to the United States Supreme Court. The successful plaintiff in this case was registered as an Independent and argued that the constitutional provision unjustly prevent third-party applicants from serving as judges on Delaware’s constitutional courts.
The bottom-line is that it remains to be seen how this will impact the quality of the Delaware judiciary which is generally regarded in most circles as among the better state judiciaries in the country.