It is election season again. And that means it is time for complaining about electoral campaigns against retaining justices who sit on state supreme courts. These campaigns are said to be inconsistent with judicial neutrality because judges are forced to take positions on jurisprudence. Big money is said to buy judicial favoritism.
I am no fan of subjecting judges to elections. In my view, the far superior system is one, like the federal structure, in which the elected chief executive of the jurisdiction appoints judges for a term of years upon confirmation of a legislative body. But judicial elections are necessary, if the appointments are made according to so-called Missouri plans, an arrangement that permits lawyers to create a power center of their own in the judiciary. Indeed, while elections provide some corrective to the democratic deficit of those plans, they are an insufficient corrective, because voters do not generally focus on judicial elections. The better solution would be trade the end of the judicial elections for the termination of Missouri plans.
The classic Missouri plan works like this: