The results of these judicial performance evaluations then are dispersed to the public (Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan, n.d.).
The Missouri Plan has been surrounded by disagreement since it was first proposed. Controversy persists over the advantages, disadvantages, and effects, if any, of merit plans on the quality of the judiciary. The passage of time has not resolved the debate. Rather, additional issues have come about in response to legal, political, and operational factors. Proponents of merit selection offer it as a preferable option to the politics and fundraising intrinsic in judicial elections, but opponents uphold that the appointive process itself is political, and that, in addition, people have a right to elect their judges. In spite of lingering doubts by some about merit selection's success in getting rid of politics from judicial selection, and the lack of hard proof that it results in the choice of better judges, the merit plan has gained extensive acceptance (Goldschmidt, 1994).
A new study put out by the Show-Me Institute finds Missouri's plan for selecting judges to the state's highest court is as good as any other in the nation. This gave fresh support to staunch backers who say the plan is working and should be left alone. The Show-Me Institute is a free-market think tank that was commissioned to study the Missouri Plan. This study was completed by two economics professors in Wisconsin and West Virginia. The study looked at a variety of methods of choosing judges, from direct election to appointment by the governor,...
The economists utilized a legal quality rating study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to look at the differences among judicial selection systems countrywide. The economists found that the highest average score from 2002-07 for all states was for gubernatorial appointments either with or without the additional step of legislative confirmation. In the end, the economists found, Missouri's method is statistically as good as any other. The research also found that other states that function slightly differently, such as necessitating legislative confirmation of nominees, score both better and worse than Missouri, so there's no change that could definitively advance the state's economic environment. The analysis found that no other method of selection resulting in average scores or rankings could be statistically higher than Missouri's current system. They found that no other judicial selection method for which all the states using it score better than Missouri in every year. The data is likely to be pushed by those fighting against efforts to change the Nonpartisan Court Plan in Missouri as further evidence not to mess with the current system (Kelly, n.d).
It appears that from the research that has been done that the Missouri Plan is working as it was intended to when it was implemented. It has been found that there is no other way that would work any better. Those who are in favor of merit selection offer it as a preferable option to the politics and fundraising intrinsic in judicial elections, while those against it uphold that the appointive process itself is political, and that, in addition, people have a right to elect their judges.
It seems that no matter what plan is used to select judges there is so element of politics and partisan that creep into the process. The question comes down to how much politics and partisan is wanted. It looks as if the more politics and partisan there is the worse the outcomes appear to be. The Missouri Plan appears to limit the politics that are involved and thus is the best plan that there is to select judges to the bench. This plan should be more widely adopted in order to limit the prejudices that are obviously everywhere in the system today.
Goldschmidt, J. (1994). Merit selection: Current status, procedures & issues. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/justice/howshould/merit.html
Kelly, W. (n.d). Show-Me Institute Study: State of Missouri's court plan as good as any. St.
Louis Daily Record (MO).
Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=297
Missouri Plan. (2011). Retrieved from http://judgepedia.org/index.php/Missouri_Plan
Missouri Plan. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.answers.com/topic/missouri-plan
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