William H. Rehnquist Award

William RehnquistThe William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence is one of our nation’s highest judicial honors. The William H. Rehnquist Award honors judges who are taking bold steps to address a variety of issues
affecting their communities.

"His dedication to duty was an inspiration to me, and I know to many others. [Rehnquist] reinforced my view that a certain humility should characterize the judicial role.  Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around."


— CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES JOHN G. ROBERTS JR.

Candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Currently holds a judicial office other than sitting chief justice
  • Has significant experience serving state courts
  • Demonstrates promotion and implementation of innovation in the management of state courts
  • Provides leadership at the national and/or state level to improve state systems of justice

The following information must accompany each nomination:

  • Letter setting forth up to five major accomplishments of the nominee
  • A resume for the candidate
  • Two letters of reference from individuals who have worked closely with the nominee and have direct knowledge of the major accomplishments

Selection process

The Governance and Nominations Committee of the NCSC Board of Directors serves as the selection committee for this award with the advice and consent of the Chief Justice of the United States. All nominations must be submitted by June 21, 2022. An award winner is anticipated to be selected by September 1.

For details on the nomination process click here.

  • 2021 - Judge Scott Schlegel (Louisiana)
  • 2020 - Judge Emily Miskel (Texas)
  • 2019 - Judge Duane Slone (Tennessee)
  • 2018 - Judge Elizabeth "Libby" Hines  (Michigan)

See the complete list of previous recipients.