Kentucky’s highest court is the Supreme Court of Kentucky. The court has six associate justices and one chief justice, who is selected by the other justices to serve a four-year term.(Source: Kentucky Supreme Court; Kentucky Constitution)

Judicial Selection

Justices on the Supreme Court of Kentucky are chosen through a nonpartisan election, where multiple candidates may vie for the seat. The elected justice serves an eight-year term and may seek additional terms through a nonpartisan election. When a seat on the court opens in the middle of a justice’s term, the governor appoints a judge from a list provided by a judicial nominating commission. If the unexpired term ends at Kentucky’s next election, the appointed justice serves the remainder of the term. However, if the unexpired term does not end at Kentucky’s next election, the appointed justice holds office until the next election if the vacancy occurs more than three months prior to the next election, or the second succeeding election if the vacancy occurs less than three months before the next election. There are no term limits, nor is there a mandatory retirement age.

State Constitution

Kentucky has had four constitutions adopted between 1792 and 1891. As of January 1, 2024, it had 43 amendments. (Source: John Dinan, 2024)



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