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Mo. judicial ballot question has failed, opponents say

Mo. Supreme Court Building.
Marshall Griffin, KWMU
Mo. Supreme Court Building.

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, MO. – Opponents of a ballot question to scrap Missouri's non-partisan court plan say its backers have not gathered enough signatures to place it on the November ballot.

The current system for selecting judges to the Missouri Supreme Court, Appeals courts and some circuit courts relies on judicial panels to select nominees, which are then chosen by the governor.

The initiative would require elections for all of Missouri's judges.

Ken Morley is an advisor for the group Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, which supports the current system. He says their analysis shows the initiative did not receive enough signatures in six of Missouri's congressional districts.

"The failure of that effort demonstrates clearly that when Missourians understand the risks presented by dismantling the non-partisan court plan, that they're going to reject that proposal out of hand," Morley said.

The initiative is backed by the group Better Courts for Missouri, which is headed by lobbyist James Harris. He released the following statement:

"I reject this as an effort by self-interested ambulance chasers to influence the Sec(retary) of State's count. Based on what the petition company reports, we believe we were able to overcome the trial lawyers' race-based suppression campaign and frivolous delaying lawsuits to collect the number of signatures necessary to put this before the voters."

A spokesman for the Secretary of State's office says they're still reviewing the petitions and will announce the results in August.