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Thursday, April 17, 2008


House Democrats led the defeat of a proposed constitutional amendment to extensively overhaul the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan, which has served as a national model for judicial selection since its adoption in 1940. After winning first-round approval on an 80-63 vote earlier in the week, HJR 49 was defeated 69-83 on a final vote on April 17.

Under the nonpartisan plan, the governor plays a limited role in selecting judges. When a vacancy arises on the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals or circuit courts in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, an independent nominating commission selects a list of three finalists for the post. The governor must appoint one of those finalists. If he fails to do so, the commission makes the selection. Republican Gov. Matt Blunt has been critical of the nonpartisan plan because of his limited influence on the selection process.

HJR 49 would have given the governor a much larger role, including letting him pick more members of the nominating commissions and allowing him to reject the nominee lists and demand new ones.

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