Show-Me Institute Releases Judicial Selection Study
The Show-Me Institute has released our contribution to the ongoing debate about the "Missouri Plan" and judicial selection in Missouri. The study is called, "Is the ‘Missouri Plan’ Good For Missouri? The Economics Of Judicial Selection." Its authors, Prof. Joshua Hall and Prof. Russell Sobel, are terrific economists who measured how the various methods of judicial selection used in all 50 states rate when considered with the Institute for Legal Reform‘s annual state rankings.
In short, it finds that Missouri’s current method of selecting Supreme Court justices (and appellate judges, and some lower court judges) is the most favorable system for the state’s economic growth, as measured by the ILR rankings. (To be clear, it’s actually tied with the closely related system of gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission with legislative approval; Missouri does not have this last part.)
Now, how does this fit into the ongoing debate about reforming our system? It is very important to note that this study looks at the big picture, not the small parts. It places the 50 states into seven different categories based on their methods of judicial selection. However, the authors readily admit that there are minor differences between individual processes within each of those seven methods. The study concludes that the Missouri Plan is good for our state and for economic growth. It does not say that minor improvements or changes to the Plan are automatically bad things, although it does warn against going too far with minor changes. To that end, I think the study fits well with the Missouri Plan op-ed I wrote last year. (I should probably rephrase this, as the small op-ed fits with the major study not the other way around.)
Nevertheless, I think this study provides an excellent framework for looking at this issue, and clearly warns against making significant changes to our plan. However, defenders of the current system (of which I am one) would be incorrect if they were to suggest that the study defends the current system exactly as it is.