Statement from Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts

The Missouri House Committee on General Laws will be considering two bills THIS WEEK that would weaken the Missouri nonpartisan court plan, which ensures fair and impartial courts.

There are two standards by which we assess any proposed changes to the plan:

1) Does it inject more politics or allow more influence and control by politicians into the process of selecting judges, and

2) Will it adversely affect the pool of qualified applicants for the judicial positions?

When we apply these two standards to the proposals before the legislature HJR 49 and HJR 52, as well as the proposed initiative petition, they fail miserably.

This is why we oppose these proposals.

We do not collectively stand before you claiming that the Missouri Court Plan is “perfect.” But it is by far the best system we know of today. We do not oppose all changes. We have suggested and do support changes that would benefit the plan and the citizens of this state.

1) We supported the recent actions by the Supreme Court to subject the Judicial Commissions to the some standards of openness as all other public bodies in this state.

2) We urge upgrading of the judge evaluations to include input from a broader range of citizens impacted by the courts and the distribution of those evaluations to all Missouri voters prior to the retention votes on judges.

Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, together with our 41 supporting organizations, represent more than 1.5 million Missourians. We truly represent Missourians from every walk of life including teachers, businesspeople, seniors and religious leaders. We stand together in opposing efforts to politicize Missouri’s courts and ask you to join us, too.