The group that wants to throw out Missouri’s nonpartisan court plan is confident it has enough petition signatures to put its issue on the November ballot.
The nonpartisan court plan, put into place by initiative petition seventy years ago, is being attacked by another initiative petition run by the ShowMe Better Courts group. The nonpartisan plan was put in place after the Pendergast political machine of Kansas City influenced or tried to influence the election of top-level judges. The plan became part of the state constitution and has been the model for plans in more than thirty other states.
But ShowMe Better Courts says trial attorneys have become the new Pendergasts and are manipulating the process to their benefit. Spokesman James Harris says judges should not be any different from many other public officials., “We elect our school district members, our fire district members,” he says, “Judges are no different from anyone else who’s in a position of trust” .
He claims his group has submitted a quarter-million signatures, about 100-thousand more than necessary. In the next several weeks, local election officials will determine if there are enough valid signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.