The White House yesterday named 55 people to five judicial selection panels that President Carter decided in February should recommend nominees for the U.S. courts of appeals.

The five panels, each with 11 members, are the first of 13 tha Carter said would be named to make "impartial" recommendations and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] politics out of the process for making circuit court judges.

His move deprives senators of some long-established patronage power over the selection of federal judges. But in what may have been a compromise with the Senate, Carter did not set up a similar system for the 400 or so District Court judges.

Instead, he urged senators to put together selection panels in their states, as California, Florida and Kentucky have done.

In either case, Carter retains the right to pick nominees. The panels will recommend five candidates for each vacancy.

An administration source said the Justice Department chose the 55 people named yesterday in consultation with the office of Carter adviser Hamilton Jordan, who puts the political stamp of approval on administration nominees, and White House counsel Robert Lipshutz.

The panels are to submit within 60 days names to fill one vacancy each in the First Judicial Circuit and the eastern and western Fifth circuits, and two vacancies each in the Sixth and southern Ninth circuits.

The White House also announced that Carter declared portions of Missouri a major disaster area because of severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that began Wednesday.

The designation allows federal funds to be used for temporary housing, low-interest loans, disaster unemployment asistance, debris removal and repair.