Post-Dispatch Editorial About Judges Needs a Tweak
Yesterday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an editorial against making changes to Missouri’s judicial selection system, suitably enough known as the “Missouri Plan.” I agree with much of this very good editorial (and we always appreciate being cited by others), but I did want to clarify a few things about Show-Me Institute study by Professors Joshua Hall and Russell Sobel that the editorial refers to, along with our other writings on this subject.
I support the Missouri Plan, but many of the changes to the plan debated by the editorial board are very close to what I called for in a commentary piece I wrote almost two years ago. Altering the terms of the commission members, reducing (but by no means eliminating) the influence of attorneys, and adding legislative confirmation of commissioners to the selection process would all be well within the framework that Hall and Sobel examined in their Show-Me Institute study. They were careful to note at the end of their study that they did not consider smaller reforms that would simply change the structure of the commission, though they warned that going too far in such changes would negate the point of the commission. States that use the Missouri Plan but add legislative confirmation to the process score just as well in the rankings Hall and Sobel considered as our current system does.
Our editor, Eric Dixon, wrote a useful piece about ways to interpret Hall and Sobel’s study. We appreciate the Post‘s editorial board using our work, but the study that the Show-Me Institute released does not suggest that all of the recent suggestions for altering the Missouri Plan are poor policy.