Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Which Republican Supports an Impartial Judiciary?

Which Republican lawyer state representative dislikes the selection of fair and impartial judges - Rep. Bryan Pratt.

Which Republican lawyer state representative respects a neutral, fair and impartial third branch of the government called the judiciary - Rep. Brian Yates.

Since Matt Blunt has been in office, extremist Republicans have entertained themselves with attacking the Missouri Plan (a plan to remove partisan politics from the selection of judges). Thanks to Sunshine Requests, we found that most of the attacks were orchestrated within Blunt's office through the Adam Smith Foundation and other make believe groups.

This year HJR 10 is current method of attack on the neutral judiciary. The Missouri Plan allows for a nominating commission to be composed of 3 lawyers from around the state (voted on by lawyers in non-partisan elections), 3 non-lawyer/citizen appointments by a Governor and the chief judge of the Supreme Court. The nominating commission interviews ALL candidates and sends three qualified folks up to the Governor. Merit, not politics, decides who is a judge in Missouri.

HJR 10 introduces more politics into the selection of judges, not less. Republican appointed judges (who have since retired) are opposed to HJR 10. Democratic appointed judges (who have since retired) are opposed to HJR 10. The Missouri Bar (every lawyer in the state is automatically a member of the Missouri Bar) is opposed to HJR 10. HJR 10 allows the governor to reject panels (instead of having to select someone from the list of three qualified candidates). HJR 10 allows for the senate to get involved with the citizen appointments to the nominating commission (more politics). HJR 10 changes the length of terms to four years from the current six years. That equals more politics because a six year term on the nominating commission only allows a two term, popular governor (like Governor Ashcroft) to appoint all the lay members to the nominating commission, not an unpopular governor (like Governor Blunt).

HJR 10 makes the "hearings, debates and votes" open to the public. Not even Governor Blunt wanted to have his interviews open to the public. Can you imagine any company, government or non-profit in the world that would want to have open job "hearing, debates and votes"? Open "hearings, debates and votes" would make the process less effective in picking judges, but much better at turning it into a political circus.

Why is this important? Most importantly, no one wants more partisan politics involved in our judiciary. Not the KC Chamber of Commerce, not citizens who would have to appear in front of partisan judges (Republican or Democratic) and not lawyers. The Missouri Plan has been copied around the country for a reason - it is good public policy to take partisan politics out of the selection of judges.

From the partisan politics side, both Yates and Pratt are running for Sen. Matt Bartle's seat. Both Pratt and Yates are lawyers (both at Shook Hardy & Bacon). One of these representatives is busy attacking the judiciary; one of these representatives is standing up to crazy attacks by the extremists in his own party. Voters, lawyers and donors will have to look at the votes of Pratt and Yates and decide who to support.