Our Purpose

To collaborate with scholars nationwide to collect data on elections to state courts of last resort from 1990 to 2010 in an effort to facilitate replication efforts and to stimulate new research in the area of state judicial selection.

Our Plan

As we collect and receive data, we will convert, clean, and add it to the data set. Throughout the process, we will regularly release the data on the project web site. Thus, the data from this project will be publicly available throughout the entire data collection project.

If You Have Data

This is a collaborative project. Aware that scholars may have collected some of these variables previously, we are soliciting data from anyone who wishes to provide it. With that said, we are flexible. If your data is in a database format, we will convert it. If it is in a word processing file, we will code it. If it is on paper, we will scan it, and if it is on tape, we will find a machine to read it. In short, we will take any data you are willing to provide in any format. Additionally, if you have information on variables that we are not collecting, just send us the data and your coding rules, and we will add it.

If You Want to Help Collect Data

Contact us, and we will help you coordinate your efforts with other scholars. We welcome contributions of any scope. Whether you want to collect one or more variables for a state, about particular race(s), or about particular candidate(s), we welcome any assistance you are willing to provide. At this early stage of the project, we would particularly welcome assistance simply identifying candidates and races that have been held between 1990 and 2010. Regardless of your contribution, we will welcome your data in any form and will promptly distribute your data to scholars nationwide.


Writing in 1986, Philip Dubois remarked that "[i]t is fairly certain that no single subject has consumed as many pages in law reviews and law-related publications over the past 50 years as the subject of judicial selection." In recent years, the Supreme Court's decisions in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, Caperton v. Massey, and Citizens United v. FEC have recaptured and held the interest of legal scholars and social scientists alike. Additionally, recent campaigns to reexamine the methods of judicial selection in Missouri, West Virginia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and various other states have attracted the attention of the general public across the country. With that in mind, scholars at Washington University in St. Louis are initiating a collaborative data collection project in an effort to allow scholars nationwide the opportunity to study the effects of various methods of selection. We invite social scientists and legal academics alike to join us as we embark on this project.

Though few would deny the importance of the justice system in the functioning of society and on the daily lives of citizens, not enough work has gone into understanding the influence judicial selection has upon judicial systems. We believe that part of the reason that more research has not been done in this area is the fact that data regarding state judicial elections are difficult to collect. This project attempts to remedy this problem by providing a focal point for data collection and sharing.

The ability of scholars to replicate and extend research is essential to the endeavor of social science. As King (1995) aptly wrote: "Political science is a community enterprise; the community of empirical political scientists needs access to the body of data necessary to replicate existing studies to understand, evaluate, and especially build on this work." Furthermore, where academic research informs decision-makers regarding policy decisions, as we should hope all academic work does, the importance of verifying and furthering results is magnified. Currently, there is no publicly available dataset for some of the most significant work in the area of judicial selection (e.g., Hall and Bonneau 2009).

This website outlines the variables currently being collected by the JEDI project. Herein, you can find the coding rules for the variables, the state-years for which each variable is being collected, a partial listing of studies utilizing variables similar (or identical) to the variables being collected, and a description of the sources of the information contained in the master data set.

We welcome any contributions, comments, or questions about this project. If you have any, feel free to contact us at jedi@wustl.edu.

If you have this data available, please contact us.