The Missouri Plan in National Perspective

Stephen J. Ware

University of Kansas - School of Law

December 3, 2009

Missouri Law Review, Vol. 74, 2009

We should distinguish the process that initially selects a judge from the process that determines whether to retain that judge on the court. Judicial selection and judicial retention raise different issues. In this paper, I primarily focus on selection. I summarize the fifty states’ methods of supreme court selection and place them on a continuum from the most populist to the most elitist. Doing so reveals that the Missouri Plan is the most elitist (and least democratic) of the three common methods of selecting judges in the United States. After highlighting this troubling characteristic of the Missouri Plan’s process of selecting judges, I turn briefly to the retention of judges and caution against the dangers posed by subjecting sitting judges to elections, including the retention elections of the Missouri Plan. I conclude with support for a system that, in initially selecting judges, avoids the undemocratic elitism of the Missouri Plan and, in retaining judges, avoids the dangers (populist and otherwise) of judicial elections.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 25

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Date posted: December 8, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Ware, Stephen J., The Missouri Plan in National Perspective (December 3, 2009). Missouri Law Review, Vol. 74, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1518029

Contact Information

Stephen J. Ware (Contact Author)
University of Kansas - School of Law ( email )
Green Hall
1535 W. 15th Street
Lawrence, KS 66045-7577
United States
785-864-9209 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.ku.edu/ware
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