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Examiner
  • Ken Garten: Vote no on Amendment 3, protect the Missouri Plan

  • The more I learn about the legislative process in Missouri, the more I think there might as well be a giant “For Sale” sign planted at the entrance of the State Capitol in Jefferson City.

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  • The more I learn about the legislative process in Missouri, the more I think there might as well be a giant “For Sale” sign planted at the entrance of the State Capitol in Jefferson City.
    Because the name of the game in politics is money.
    It takes money to get elected.
    And therefore the elected members of our state legislature are beholden to those who give them buckets and wheelbarrows full of money.
    A corollary to this is that legislators can also be intimidated by threats to give their opponents substantial contributions at the next election.
    Perhaps most disturbing about all of this is that much money is infused into our state’s legislative process from out-of-state interests seeking to impose their policies nationwide by purchasing influence state by state.
    These economic forces are behind an issue that Missouri voters will see on the ballot when they go to the polls on Nov. 6.
    That would be the ill-advised Amendment No. 3.
    These same politico-economic forces I’m talking about got Amendment No. 3 on the ballot, through a highly-financed effort in Jefferson City.
    Proposed Amendment No. 3 is an attempt to interject the ability to control the selection of judges in Missouri through political and economic pressures, much like the legislative process.
    Money and power-driven political machines are not a new phenomenon.
    That’s why, back in 1940, Missouri formulated a system for selecting judges to keep appellate courts and metro areas insulated from such influences, whereby judges are selected by a merit-based, non-partisan system.
    That system has become known nationwide as the “Missouri Plan,” and has been adopted in similar form by more than half the states.
    The Missouri Plan seeks to prevent those with vast wealth from getting judges on the bench by throwing money at a political effort to do so.
    This results in a judiciary in Missouri that is competent, qualified, fair-minded, and not beholden to any political or economic agenda.
    But this upsets parties in some quarters who have lots and lots of money, are accustomed to being able to use it to get what they want, and are frustrated that they can’t use their money to influence the selection of judges.
    So what is a wealthy political movement to do? Use their money to try to change the rules so as to vest the judicial selection process in elected officials to whom they can make campaign donations, rather than a committee assimilated through a non-partisan, less-political process.
    This is a nationwide movement, aimed at attacking the Missouri plan nationwide. And where best to start, than in the state it’s named after.
    As a lawyer, and a Missourian, I am so glad we have the system we have, and not a judicial system that is influenced by the kinds of influences that permeate the legislative process.
    Page 2 of 2 - So please, I urge all of my fellow Missourians, regardless of party affiliation, or political leaning, let’s stand united on the sanctity of our judiciary. When you enter that voting booth on Nov. 6, vote no on Amendment 3.
    Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Contact him at krgarten@yahoo.com.
     
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