Gavel Grab

Swift-Boating the Courts: Missouri Edition

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That didn’t take long. Within an hour of the confirmation of Justice Stephen Limbaugh to a federal judgeship, opening up a vacancy on the Missouri high court, the PR firm behind the Swift Boat campaign renewed its attacks on the Missouri courts.  CRC Communications helped orchestrate the recent failed effort to tamper with the Missouri Plan, which has been adopted by many states wanting to reduce partisan politics and special interest pressure on the their courts.  But the legislature rejected it, the public wasn’t buying it, and Missourians couldn’t even be bothered to sign a petition to put it on the ballot.  Today’s continuing irony: the PR client, Better Courts for Missouri—which won’t reveal its donors—argues that the process is too secret.  Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, a bipartisan coalition representing the Missouri majority, has the full run-down.

Update:   The St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that Missouri’s system has produced conservative and liberal justices: “They are eminently qualified and proudly independent. What’s not to like?”  Click here for the full piece.

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JAS Daily News Monitor 12/12/07

Poll: Mo. voters back nonpartisan court plan – The St. Louis Business Journal
A new poll shows that a majority of Missouri voters support the judicial selection process.

Surveillance Court Declines to Release Secret Opinions – The New York Times
After reviewing a request by the ACLU, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decides not to release information on the NSA’s wiretapping program.

A FISA fix – LA Times Opinion by U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey
Attorney General Michael Mukasey asks Congress to update FISA and give the Administration more leeway to intercept foreign communications.

Gay marriage case gets most “friend-of-court” briefs in memory – The Associated Press
The California Supreme Court has received a record number of amici briefs, before oral arguments are even scheduled.

Given the Latitude to Show Leniency, Judges May Not – The New York Times
Some experts speculate that even though judges were given more discretion in sentencing decisions yesterday by the Supreme Court, they may not exercise their new power very often.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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