Wall Street Journal and Mo’ Better Judges
The Wall Street Journal has a lead editorial today on Missouri’s system of selecting judges, very originally known as "The Missouri Plan." Unfortunately, as most of you know, the Journal’s damned website is subscription only, so I can’t link to the entire thing for you. I had the bright idea of cutting the article out of our dead tree edition, scanning it, and linking to the file (a clever idea only about a billion people have already thought of), but stopped when I was informed that might be illegal. Anyway, the editorial is interesting but ultimately disappointing. The final summation:
Keeping judicial selection democratically accountable is the best insurance for choosing the best judges, and ensuring that they are serving the interests of the citizens.
I can’t tell whether that is calling for all judges to be elected, or just for increased transparency and more involvement by elected officials in the selection process. My guess is that they are calling for all judges to be elected, which would be an absolutely terrible idea statewide and in larger counties. If they are merely calling for more openness and input from elected officials, I agree with that, to a large extent. As a reminder, my own op-ed on this issue is here. There are many good parts of the editorial, too, especially the none-too-kind comments on the current Supreme Court panel Governor Blunt gets to pick from.
The ending of the Wall Street Journal editorial isn’t its only weakness, though. It quotes a poll, as if that is some sort of evidence for anything:
In a Federalist Society poll done in March, 87% of state residents were unaware even of the make-up of the nominating commission.
An any point in time, about 30 percent of Americans can’t name the vice president. Should we get rid of that office? Any idea how many people can, right now, name their state representative? I am guessing 20 percent at most. Should we get rid of them? (Don’t answer that.) I am actually surprised 13 percent of Missourians could correctly list the commission’s make-up. Just because people watch "Entertainment Tonight" instead of reading The Economist does not mean the Missouri Plan is flawed.
I was going to post today on additional feedback my op-ed has received, but the Journal seemed more topical. I’ll do that tomorrow. Can’t you just feel the excitement?
P.S. You wanted more Spike Lee references, you got ’em!