3Center or American Progress | The Conservative Takeover o State Judiciaries
nees o send o he governor, who hen chooses one nominee o become a judge. Aereach erm in ofce, Missourians voe o reain or dismiss he judge.Te meri selecion process ensures ha he governor appoins only qualied, apoliical judges, as he commitee will only nominae qualied, apoliical judicial candidaes due ois divorce rom poliics. Yes, poliics eners he equaion once he judge aces he voers, bu because o he meri-based appoinmen process, he iniial appoinmen o he judgeis based on a nonparisan review o a nominee’s compeency, inegriy, and emperamen.Te conservaive-conrolled legislaure is rying o change he makeup o he commis-sion o give he governor more conrol over he candidaes i selecs. S.J.R. 51, a reer-endum suppored in he legislaure by 102 Republicans and 1 Democra, would replacehe chie jusice wih a nonvoing reired jusice, and would allow he governor oappoin a ourh, nonatorney member as he ie-breaking voe.
Tis would enable hegovernor o bring his or her own poliical philosophies direcly o bear on he appoin-men process beore he voers ever ge a say on he mater.Making he Appellae Judicial Commission more atuned o he winds o poliics would be severely derimenal o judicial independence. I he our appoined commissionersare all o he same pary, he mos poliically conneced individuals will become judgesa he expense o beter qualied, more independen candidaes. Missouri Bar PresidenLynn Vogel has saed ha he plan benes people who have “given enough money ohe governor.”
Jusice William Price has announced ha he will reire on Augus 1 oensure his successor is chosen “by he same … nonparisan meri plan ha has served[Missouri] so well or he pas 70 years.”
Tese and oher asue observers recognizeha i he reerendum passes, pary loyaly and adherence o ideology will become moreimporan han qualicaions.Tis shi will become apparen immediaely. Raher han allowing he curren appoin-ees o nish heir erms, S.J.R. 51 allows he nex governor o appoin all our memberso he commission a once in January 2013 and replace wo o hem in January 2015,ensuring he governor’s inuence or a leas six years.Unlike oher legislaion limiing judges’ independence, S.J.R. 51 was no he resul o a judicial conroversy. A ormer Missouri Republican Pary chairman esied in com-mitee ha sae judges “haven’ done anyhing o he people ha ourages hem.”
TeMissouri cour has no legalized same-sex marriage or declared he deah penaly uncon-siuional. Insead, S.J.R. 51 is he culminaion o hal a decade’s worh o work on hepar o conservaives dismayed ha he cour will no bend o conservaive ideology onissues such as medical malpracice and or reorm.In 2007 Republican Gov. Mat Blun sirred conroversy, claiming ha he nominaingcommission broke he law by meeing wihou public scruiny, as sae supreme cour