Friday, November 9, 2007
Some want political hacks for judges - latest proposal to gut non-partisan plan
The latest proposal to gut the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan is circulating thanks to the Federalist Society and Rep. Lembke. Here's the problem - we don't want partisans on the bench. Just because someone is close to an important politician doesn't make them qualified to be a judge. Political types shouldn't be excluded from the process, but they should have substance as a lawyer.
Judges should be neutral, they should be fair. Judges should be able to apply the law and follow precedent. Judges shouldn't owe people favors, should raise money for political campaigns. Yes, it is an ivory tower view of the world. If you are Matt Blunt, do you really want Bob Holden's best friend deciding your case? If you are Jeff Roe, do you really want a highly partisan Democrat deciding the libel suit brought against you by a Republican? No - we want a neutral place that we can all trust to decide cases of importance.
Let's pretend that the state legislature decides it is ok for the Cardinals to pay for the training of umpires, hire the umpires, and send the umpires over for the Royals game. Would they call every play wrong - no. Would we all question the impartiality and fairness over a system - yes. Would there be a Don Denkinger moment in every game - you betcha. That is what we are talking about here - every citizen and corporation should feel like the scales of justice are balanced when they walk in the door.
The St. Louis Post blog on the subject is below
Critics of Missouri Plan lay out new judicial-selection proposal
By Jo Mannies
11/08/2007 1:48 pm
Bill Placke, president of the St. Louis chapter of the Federalist Society, has kindly forwarded to us the latest version of the proposed ballot measure to revamp the state’s current judicial-selection process for the state Supreme Court, appeals court, and circuits in the St. Louis and Kansas City area.
The aim is get the Legislature to approve the measure and place it on the November 2008 ballot.
Placke emphasizes that the Federalist Society is split over the measure. Those supporting include local lawyers Tom Walsh and Sam Hais (the latter a former circuit judge, and state Rep. Jim Lembke, R-South County.
Among other things, the proposal:
–Sets time limits on judicial vacancies
–Calls for the selection panel to pick five nominees, from which the governor would choose.
– Revamps and expands the selection panel (now three lawyers elected by the lawyers of The Missouri Bar, three citizens selected by the governor, and the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, who serves as chair).
The panel would be expanded to 10 members, some of whom would be picked legislative leaders:
– Two members of the Missouri Bar, appointed by the governor (one from each major party).
–Two gubernatorial appointees who “are not members of the Missouri Bar” (one from each major party).
– One person named by the state House speaker
– One person named by the House minority leader
– One person named by the state Senate president pro tem
– One named by the state Senate minority leader
– Two from the Missouri Bar, named by the attorney general (one from each major party).
As a point of clarification, every lawyer in Missouri is a member of the Missouri Bar.