Two Nebraska Supreme Court justices face retention elections in November

Two Nebraska Supreme Court justices, Lindsey Miller-Lerman and Jeffrey Funke will face retention elections on November 3, 2020. Justice Funke was appointed in 2016 by Governor Pete Ricketts (R), while justice Miller-Lerman was appointed in 1998 by Governor Ben Nelson (D).

As of September 2019, six Justices on the court were appointed by a Republican governor, and one judge was appointed by a Democratic governor.

• William Cassel: Appointed by Gov. Dave Heineman (R) in 2012.
• John Freudenberg: Appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in 2018.
• Jeffrey Funke: Appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in 2016.
• Michael Heavican: Appointed by Gov. Dave Heineman (R) in 2006.
• Lindsey Miller-Lerman: Appointed by Gov. Ben Nelson (D) in 1998.
• Jonathan Papik: Appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in 2018.
• Stephanie Stacy: Appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in 2015.

Justices are appointed by the governor through a hybrid nominating commission where neither the governor nor the Nebraska State Bar Association has majority control. The Nebraska Judicial Nominating Commission is made up of four lawyers selected by the Nebraska State Bar Association and four non-lawyers selected by the governor. The commission is chaired by a Nebraska Supreme Court justice who cannot vote.

When vacancies occur, the commission interviews candidates to fill the empty seat on the court. The commission chooses at least two candidates to submit to the governor, who has 60 days to make an appointment. If the governor does not appoint someone in time, the chief justice is responsible for choosing one of the commission’s nominees.

Justices seeking to keep their seats must run in retention elections in the first general election occurring more than three years after their initial appointment by the governor. Justices are then subject to retention every six years. There is no mandatory retirement age for supreme court justices in Nebraska.

Additional Reading:
Nebraska Supreme Court
Judicial selection in Nebraska
Jeffrey Funke
Lindsey Miller Lerman