Judge Allows Deceptive Ballot Initiative Description to Move Forward in Missouri
September 19, 2012
Missouri voters have the opportunity to reduce the power of legal special interest groups when they head to the voting booth in November. But proponents of the current system – where the trial bar plays the key role in choosing who will sit on the bench – are working to block the modest reform proposal. Earlier this week, a Missouri appeals court panel upheld the ballot language for the proposed constitutional amendment that gives voters a misleading picture of what the initiative actually does.
Since the Republican-led Legislature, which placed the initiative on the ballot, did not write its own summary language, the “task fell to Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.” Supporters of the reform initiative argued in a lawsuit that the:
“[Carnahan] summary was insufficient and unfair – in part because it highlighted the potential for all the appointees to be lawyers when the governor could just as easily appoint no lawyers to the panel. The suit claimed that Carnahan’s summary failed to mention what supporters contend would be the primary effect – reducing the influence of the bar by increasing the number of gubernatorial appointees to the panel.”
The fact that “merit” selection proponents have gone to such great lengths to mislead voters is a clear sign they know they are losing the intellectual argument. Regardless of what happens in Missouri, the idea that judges should be chosen not by voters or their elected representatives, but by state Bar Association pooh-bahs and trial lawyer lackeys is clearly on the defensive.