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Battles Over Mo.'s Non-Partisan Court Plan Not Over

Steakpinball | Flickr

Supporters of Missouri’s non-partisan court plan say Tuesday’s rejection of Amendment Three sends a strong message that voters embrace the current system for selecting nominees for the State Supreme Court, Appeals courts and a few of the state's circuit courts.

Had it passed, it would have given the governor more say into selecting panel members – currently the governor is limited to selecting the non-lawyer panel members, but language approved by the Secretary of State’s office said the amendment would have allowed the governor to “appoint all lawyers” to the panels.  Missouri Bar President Pat Starke says he doesn’t think the language was misleading, as has been contended by Amendment Three’s supporters.

“I don’t think folks in Missouri turned this down because the language said that seven lawyers could be on that commission," Starke told reporters during a conference call today.  "I think folks in Missouri turned it down because they didn’t want to concentrate all that power in the Governor’s office – and that is a true-ism of Amendment Three, is (that) it concentrated power in the Governor’s office.”

Starke says he believes Amendment Three’s supporters will continue to look for ways to sabotage the so-called “Missouri Plan.”

“We’re contemplating their coming back with something more extreme than what they had previously, so we’re gonna work to get ready for that," Starke said.  "What’s that mean?  (There's) probably gonna be some fundraising.”

Calls made to Amendment Three's legislative backers have so far not been returned -- however, several of the measure's supporters are on record as saying that the non-partisan court plan is not non-partisan, that it gives the Missouri Bar and so-called "liberal attorneys" too much control over who eventually gets to sit on the state’s highest courts.

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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