Regarding a challenge to Missouri’s nationally recognized merit system for selecting judges, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial urges a resounding ‘no.’ And to help make its case, the editorial relies on a video of nasty attack ads compiled by Justice at Stake.
The editorial warns against the ballot initiative to replace Missouri’s system for selecting appellate and state Supreme Court judges with competitive elections. Such a shift would make the state a hotbed for “bitter judicial elections and the vilest attack ads,” it declares, along with other damaging fallout:
“Judicial campaigns in Missouri would be seen as excellent investments by special-interest contributors. Voters usually donâ€™t follow the races closely. That amplifies the effect of attack ads â€” destroying public confidence in the courts, but provide a winning formula for some candidates.”
Through up-or-down retention elections, Missouri voters have a say already in whether to keep these judges on the bench, the editorial notes. It urges voters to keep courts fair and impartial:
“Messy judicial campaigns are not inevitable in Missouri if citizens are willing to participate in the process, stand up for independent courts and say no to political extremism and opportunists.”
You can learn more about the challenge under way in Missouri from Gavel Grab. To read more about appointment/retention systems for selecting judges, visit Justice at Stake’s issues page on the topic. A selection of negative judicial campaign ads can be seen at the JAS resource page on the topic.