In legal circles, when folks think of Missouri, they think of the “Missouri Plan.” Seventy years ago, Missouri instituted a new method of selecting judges, especially the judges that sit on the state’s supreme court. The plan was copied by many other states.
It is beloved by the insiders.
A few years ago, I wrote at Townhall.com: “[T]he Missouri Bar has something of a lock on the whole process. . . . It’s supposed to be non-partisan. Bottom line is that lawyers are in control.”
A judicial commission controlled by the state bar association picks the judges that the governor must then pick from — with the bulk of the commission’s work done behind closed doors.
Missourians are shocked when informed how the process works. So are folks in other states that have adopted the Missouri Plan. It isn’t transparent and it puts key decision-making on judges in the hands of an unelected special interest.
But things may be looking up. A group called Better Courts for Missouri submitted paperwork to start a new petition. The group aims to gather enough signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2010, to open up the system, make it more transparent.
Legislative attempts to change the system have failed. Generally, politically powerful lawyers are for a plan that lets lawyers have the biggest say.
Well, now they are up against competition. The people.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.