Missouri House Rejects Politicizing Judicial Selection

A decisive majority of the Missouri House voted today to reject an effort to politicize the state’s first-in-the-nation model system of judicial selection. By a vote of 83-69, Missouri’s state house gave thumbs-down to a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would have put the power to pick judges squarely in the hands of the legislative and executive branches of government. The current system employs a nonpartisan commission to review applicants for many of Missouri’s judgeships, and that commission then forwards a short list of three to the governor, who makes the final choice. The voters of the state then have the opportunity to approve or reject the selection at the next general election. The “Missouri Plan” was adopted in 1940, and his since been replicated in more than 30 states. The state house’s rejection of the proposal culminates a long campaign of aggression against the third branch in Missouri — for now. A broad-based coalition, built by Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, helped demonstrate to the legislature that Missouri voters were not supportive of playing politics with the courts. In December of 2007, Justice at Stake commissioned public opinion research by Public Opinion Strategies that clearly demonstrated a “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude across the state toward judicial selection.

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