University of Denver

Effort Underway to Put Elections for Missouri's Appellate Judges on the 2014 Ballot

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

Opponents of commission-based appointment of judges—also known as the Missouri Plan, for the state in which the judicial selection process originated—have obtained approval from the secretary of state for two identically worded proposed constitutional amendments that would establish contested elections for Missouri's appellate judges. The proposals would also increase the size of the state supreme court from seven to nine justices. Under Missouri law, to go on the 2014 ballot, proponents need signatures equal in number to eight percent of district votes cast for governor in six of the state's nine congressional districts.

Missouri voters are no strangers to efforts to alter the selection process for the state's appellate judges. In 2012, voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed the governor to appoint a majority of the members of the appellate judicial commission and given the governor four nominees, rather than three, to choose from in appointing appellate judges. Supporters of that measure vowed to "regroup and move forward with something more aggressive" for 2014, and it appears they have made good on that promise. In 2010, a citizen initiative similar to the current proposal failed to garner enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot.