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There is widespread agreement that an independent judiciary is crucial to the growth of a nation. Yet systematic analysis of the development of independent courts is difficult, because, typically, formal judicial institutions seldom change. Here, I examine a formal judicial institution with substantial cross-sectional and time-series variation to explore: the procedure used to select and retain judges in the American states. Five different procedures emerged over the nation's history, and alldoi:10.2139/ssrn.383681 fatcat:abozwlrya5gcxaygmjp6kdnuai