The organization that represents the state’s lawyers says a resolution that has passed the House and moved on to the Senate is misleading and unnecessary. The Missouri Bar says there’s no need for the resolution that would prohibit judges from imposing tax increases. The Bar says its passage would restrict Missourians access to the courts.
University of Missouri law professor Doug Abrams says the constitutional amendment goes well beyond normal criticism of court decisions. He compares it to a referee at a football game. Abrams says everyone wants the referee to be fair and impartial and to follow the rules of the game. A referee is held accountable often when the fans boo, but he adds that no one expects booing to change the rules of the game.
Former State Supreme Court Judge Ann Covington objects to a phrase often used: activist, unelected judges. Covington points out all Missouri judges face election and those elected under the non-partisan court plan face retention votes. Covington adds that no Missouri judge has ever imposed a tax increase.
Missouri Bar President Ron Baird says the Missouri Constitution expressly grants the power to tax to the legislature. Baird worries that the resolution would erode the checks and balances of state government, with one branch of state government imposing restrictions on another. Baird adds that the resolution would restrict access to the courts.
If the resolution passes the legislature it would go to a vote of the people. All lawyers in the state must be a member of the Missouri Bar to practice law in Missouri.