By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS – Parties involved in an appeal over the language of a state amendment for judge appointments wait as the deadline to prepare general election ballots approaches.
The western division of the Missouri Court of Appeals heard arguments Thursday regarding an initial ruling by a Cole County judge that does not change the original ballot summary penned by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.
The summary will ask voters on Nov. 6 if they want to give more latitude to the governor in appointing members of the commission that nominates judges for the Missouri Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
Eight Missouri residents filed a lawsuit challenging the language.
James Harris, leader of Better Courts for Missouri and one of the plaintiffs, said the measure is designed to reduce trial attorney special interests’ control of judicial selection and that the wording is biased.
Eddie Greim, the Kansas City attorney representing the plaintiffs, told Missouri Watchdog Monday that he expects a decision early this week.
“We feel that we’re correct, and we’re hopeful,” he said.
Federal law requires general election ballots to be prepared for military voters by Saturday, while under state law absentee ballots must be ready Sept. 25.
SOS communications director Stacie Temple said she doesn’t expect the decision to cause the state to miss those dates.
“All parties are aware of the ballot printing deadline so we hope to hear something soon from the judge,” she told Watchdog.
Carnahan’s summary states:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change the current nonpartisan selection of supreme court and court of appeals judges to a process that gives the governor increased authority to:
- appoint a majority of the commission that selects these court nominees, and
- appoint all lawyers to the commission by removing the requirement that the governor’s appointees be non-lawyers?”
Critics say the last part is misleading because the governor could choose to appoint any number of lawyers – including zero — to the commission.