For nearly a decade there have been attempts to abolish or modify the way Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges are selected in our state.
This year is no different.
One of the measures on the November ballot is Constitutional Amendment 3, a half-hearted attempt to modify Missouri’s nonpartisan court plan. We say half-hearted because the proponents of the amendment have decided not to campaign on its behalf because they object to the ballot language.
Under the current plan for choosing Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges, a nominating commission made up of three citizens appointed by the governor and three lawyers selected by Missouri Bar members plus the chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court choose a panel of three finalists. The governor appoints a judge from that panel.
Among other things, Amendment 3 will allow the governor to appoint four lawyers as members of the commission or a majority.
The proposed changes, while modest in nature, are also unnecessary.
We agree with critics of the amendment, including the Missouri Bar, who say it would inject more politics into the selection process.
The nonpartisan court plan is not perfect, but it has worked well for over 70 years and is a model process that other states have adopted. That is why it enjoys overwhelming support from members of the legal community including the judiciary.
One of its most ardent supporters of the current plan is former Missouri Supreme Court Judge William Ray Price Jr. Price, a Republican and one of the most astute jurists to ever serve on our state’s highest court, argues that Amendment 3 would inject more money in the judicial selection process by consolidating more power with the governor.
As usual, Judge Price is right. That is why we will vote no on Amendment 3.