Judicial elections, democratic appointment (e.g., senate confirmation), and the Missouri Plan (a/k/a "merit selection")

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oklahoma Speaker of the House Weighs in on Method of Selecting Oklahoma Supreme Court

Efforts to change Oklahoma's Supreme Court selection process from the Missouri Plan to something more democratic have been picking up lately.

Carrie Severino explains that "calls for selection reform intensified in June" when the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a tort-reform bill.  Here, she criticizes Oklahoma’s speaker of the house, T. W. Shannon, for his opposition to judicial elections.

"Instead of direct election of justices — the practice in Oklahoma from statehood until a bribery scandal in the 1960s — Shannon said he favors revamping the selection process and perhaps limiting terms or instituting a mandatory retirement age for justices," according to the Tulsa World.  Of course, the important details are in how one might "revamp" the selection process.  "Currently, judicial vacancies are filled by the governor from a list of nominees from the Judicial Nominating Commission. Six of the commission's 15 members are lawyers elected by the bar association. Of the remaining nine members, six are appointed by the governor, one by the speaker of the House, one by the president pro tem of the Senate and one by the other members of the commission."  My beef with this system is the power it gives the bar.

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