The Missouri Plan, in contrast to elections, gives voters virtually no voice in choosing judges. In Missouri Plan states, an unelected commission conducts private meetings and evaluates candidates behind closed doors, then submits the names of candidates to the governor. The governor is typically required to choose someone off of the commission’s list to appoint to the court – even if he or she finds all the candidates undesirable. Beyond the lack of transparency and accountability, a major issue with this system is that most states that use it guaranty that a certain percentage of people on the commission are chosen by the state bar -- and the lawyers on the commission notoriously have a strong and disproportionate influence on the process. Professor Brian Fitzpatrick, who has researched state judicial selection extensively, concluded in one study that this method “may not remove politics from judicial selection so much as it moves the politics of judicial selection into closer alignment with the ideological preferences of the bar.”
Liberals have another famous proponent of the Missouri Plan to help them with their cause: billionaire George Soros. The Open Society Institute, a Soros-funded non-profit, has spent more than $45 million promoting the nation. You don’t have to be smarter than a 5th grader to be skeptical when a Soros back group is throwing in money like that. States judiciaries are at the forefront of many of the most contentious and significant cases: 17 states had their redistricting altered or changed by the courts, several states have made decisions concerning gay marriage and gay rights, in addition to hundreds of tort and property right cases heard in state courts. While O’Connor idealizes the Missouri Plan, the devil is in the details. It is important for citizens to keep an eye on the plans to transform our state judiciary into a system where true justice is lost to a tyranny of black robes.
The best way to find out how state judges are chosen is to visit www.StateCourtsGuide.com.