Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Harris Calls on Court to Halt Lobbying on Proposed Judicial Changes

The House has given initial approval to a constitutional amendment that would give more power to the Governor to select state judges by amending what's known as "The Missouri Plan."
House Joint Resolution 10 was approved with bipartisan support, according to Better Courts for Missouri Executive Director James Harris. But he's also calling on the Supreme Court to end lobbying against the changes.

Harris said the changes would essentially do four things:
  • Add "Sunshine" to the process
  • Increase the amount of names presented to the Governor for approval
  • Give the Governor the right to reject a panel of candidates recommended by the Judicial Commission with veto power
  • Add a citizen to the Judicial Commission
Harris also said the Supreme Court shouldn't be involved in crafting or influencing the pending legislation.

"Over the past few weeks, state personnel and judges have engaged in lobbying and political activity," Harris said. "These judges have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of Missouri. Maybe they should be reminded that Article V. Section 25 (f) prohibits judges from being involved in political activity. Lobbying against a measure that is being heard in the Missouri Legislature and will ultimately be placed before the public for a vote violates not only the letter of the law, but very essence of the judicial system," Harris added.

He said Chief Justice Laura Stith should tell court members to "cease any and all lobbying efforts."

Senate approval for this amendment will be more difficult. Several Democratic Senators, who see nothing wrong with the current process, are expected to filibuster the changes when it hits the floor sometime next week.

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