Merit Selection of Judges in Missouri Faces Challenge
Vogel, Lynn Whaley, Judicature
For nearly three-quarters of a century, Missouri's NonPartisan Court Plan has helped protect the integrity of the state's courts by choosing high-quality judges in the least political way and ultimately giving the people the final say through retention elections. Also known as "The Missouri Plan," this system of judicial selection keeps money and politics out of our courts and is a model for the nation. The Non-Partisan Court Plan has produced a steady stream of competent judges in Missouri for the past 70 years.
Citizens and lawyers, along with a judge, work as a balanced team on judicial nominating commissions, where they select the top three candidates for the governor to choose to fill an open judgeship. The commissioners review the candidates' character and community experience they bring to the bench, evaluating their professional strengths and legal analysis skills.
In recent years, however, the Non-Partisan Court Plan has come under attack. This May, the Missouri Legislature approved Senate Joint Resolution 51, a proposed Constitutional Amendment that, if approved by a vote of the people, would have the effect of eliminating Missouri's merit-based judicial selection process. …