Issues: Protecting the Impartiality of the Judiciary

All of judges on the Supreme Court of Missouri and Missouri Court of Appeals are selected under the Non-Partisan Court Plan, in which judges apply for their positions on the bench and are selected on the basis of merit. The Plan also includes circuit and associate circuit judges in the City of St. Louis, and in St. Louis, Jackson, Clay, Platte and Greene Counties.

Missouri's Non-Partisan Court Plan has become a model for the nation. It continues to reduce the role of partisan politics in the selection and election of judges. The Non-Partisan Court Plan ensures that judges owe their position to all the voters and are not beholden to wealthy donors or special interest groups. More than 30 other states have based all or part of their judicial selection system on The Missouri Plan, as it is known nationally.

Legislators routinely offer changes to the Non-Partisan Court Plan that would give politicians more power in who becomes a judge. Last year, an interest group filed an initiative petition that would have replaced the Non-Partisan Court Plan with partisan judicial elections. The proposal never made its way to the ballot because Missouri voters had no interest or enthusiasm in signing the initiative.

The Missouri Bar recommends that voters carefully evaluate any proposed changes to Missouri's court system to determine whether or not the change would bring the influence of money and politics into the court system.