Proposal to change judicial selection resurrected

For the sixth time in seven years, state Sen. Jim Lembke wants lawmakers to send voters a constitutional amendment changing the way Missouri chooses its Supreme and appeals court judges.

“(This amendment) would restore the proper check between the executive branch and the judicial branch,” Lembke told the Senate’s Judiciary Committee Monday night.

The Lemay Republican wants to change the Nonpartisan Court Plan, first approved by Missouri voters in 1940.

The plan has a seven-member Appellate Judicial Commission to consider applications whenever there is a vacancy on the appeals and Supreme courts, then nominate three of those applicants to the governor for his appointment to fill the vacancy.

The commission’s members include three lawyers serving six-year staggered terms, who are elected by Missouri Bar members.

Three other members are citizens who are appointed by the governor — also for staggered six-year terms — who can not be lawyers.

The seventh member is a Supreme Court judge — traditionally the chief justice.

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