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Missouri judicial appointments

The Missouri Plan seems on paper to be an epitome of good government: a "merit selection" process that supposedly takes politics out of the equation. In practice, it's dominated by the trial-lawyer lobby; as one study found, "far from taking judicial selection out of politics, the Missouri Plan actually tended to replace politics, wherein the judge faces popular election (or selection by a popularly elected official), with a somewhat subterranean process of bar and bench politics, in which there is little popular control." The result is a variety of judicial hellhole opinions.

There have been previous calls for reform, but they've gathered speed this year, with the Missouri Legislature considering a constitutional amendment to give the governor and legislature more say over nominations and the nominating committee. The trial bar is lobbying heavily to keep their control over the process. [Pero; Severino]

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.