A Cole County Judge has dismissed a case against the Secretary of State regarding ballot summary for Amendment 3, that would change how judges are selected for the state’s Supreme and Appeals courts.

The proposal would raise the number of appointees of the Governor on commissions that nominate appellate court finalists, and raise from three to four the number of finalists.  It was passed by the Republican-led legislature, which opted not to provide its own ballot summary.  Plaintiffs accused Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, of creating misleading language for its summary.

Circuit Judge Jon Beetem says the summary meets the requirements of Missouri law. He says it “accurately reflects the legal and probable effects of the proposed amendment without bias, prejudice, deception or favoritism.”

See the summary on the Secretary of State’s website.

An attorney for the plaintiffs, Clayton Callen, argued the summary would be misleading to anyone who favors the Amendment, and would actually lead them to vote against it.

Judge Beetem did say there was “no question a better summary statement could have been submitted” by the Secretary of State.” He says, “The summary statement does not include all details or possible outcomes, but including all details or possible outcomes is neither required nor possible under the limits of (Missouri law).”

The Judge adds, “The summary statement does reflect the purposes of Amendment 3 in language that is neither intentionally argumentative nor likely to create prejudice either for or against the measure.”

See the full text of Judge Beetem’s judgement (pdf).

Secretary of State Carnahan, in a statement, says, “With less than two weeks to go before the September 22 deadline for local election authorities to send ballots to military and overseas absentee voters, this is a positive development to avoid any delay in printing and mailing ballots to these voters.”