Click to read more about the positions that the Adam Smith Foundation was created to defend:
- Judicial Reform
- Government Accountability
- Education Reform
- Tax & Spending Reform
- Protecting Private Property
- Responsible Health Care Reform
- Stopping Irresponsible Regulations
- Standing Against Forced Unionism
- Standing Up for Direct Democracy
HIGHLIGHTS from the BLOG:
Yesterday, the Missouri House of Representatives passed two key labor reform...
Over the course of the past week, both the Missouri House and Senate have made...
Today, the Missouri Senate Small Business, Insurance, and Industry Committee...
August 16, 2007
Process for new judge mustn't be left to elite group of lawyersSpringfield News-Leader Op-Ed
We are grateful the editors have allowed us to respond to Tony Messenger's recent column attacking the Adam Smith Foundation, particularly in light of the fact that we were never contacted or asked to provide comments in advance of the column's publication. Contrary to Messenger's error, we are a Missouri foundation funded by the contributions of ordinary Missourians who, like us, believe that government should operate in the light. When Missourians are given access to information about how their government does business, they are also given the ability to hold that government accountable. We are sure Messenger agrees.
Where Messenger and the Adam Smith Foundation seem to part ways, however, is in truly believing that the process for selecting Supreme Court judges should be open and visible to the public, just like all other government activity. We believe that Missourians are owed accountability in the judicial selection process because the courts make decisions that affect every family. Judges certainly need some level of independence so they can do their jobs fairly and make hard decisions in important cases. But that is exactly why Missourians deserve some voice in the selection of those judges. Does Messenger believe that the current judicial selection process should be dominated by a very small number of lawyers who are not accountable to Missourians? It is no secret that the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA) exercises a great deal of influence and possesses the equivalent of veto power over the Appellate Judicial Commission's actions. Such strong control over the judiciary by a special interest group who lobbies for and against specific legislation, for and against specific candidates threatens judicial independence and, ultimately, Missouri's system of checks and balances.
Many Missourians want to protect those checks and balances. They deserve access to critical information about the judicial selection process. That is why the Adam Smith Foundation is shining a light on organizations that have indicated through their public statements that they prefer to do their business in secret. The commission recently released a letter wherein they defended their secretive process by citing a Supreme Court rule that says the process must be done in secret with only the commission taking part. The commission claims this rule even trumps Missouri's open records law. Rules notwithstanding, the list of applicants for the current Supreme Court vacancy was circulated to an elite group of lawyers before the commission selected the nominees. This raises a few questions. Is it true that MATA was allowed to pre-screen candidates at its convention and was active in communicating with the commission? Did Justice Stith, the chair of the commission, violate her own confidentiality rules by circulating the list for comment by noncommissioners? If not, who under her supervision did? Have they been reprimanded? From the earliest days of our history, powerful secret societies and closed meetings have raised the suspicion of wise Americans. With good reason. Those who have fought for secrecy were often fighting to preserve their own power over the lives of citizens. The public's right to know how its government operates is fundamental in a democracy. The Adam Smith Foundation exists partly because Missourians are tired of Supreme Court judges being picked through the back-room deals that were supposed to end when the demise of the Pendergast Machine. Filling the courts with the most qualified candidates, not the most connected candidates, is essential to strengthening the judiciary and preserving the checks and balances that are so critical to our system of democracy. For the good of the judiciary, for the good of the state, and for the good of democracy, we will continue our efforts to shed light on the backroom deals and special interest politics that have overtaken the judicial selection process.
Legislature Attempts to Weaken Initiative Rights
This session, the legislature is considering a variety of bills that will extremely restrict citizens' opportunity to take the lead on legislative issues through the initiative process.
Missourians' initiative rights are extremely important and must be protected. Initiatives are an important tool for citizens to use when the legislature refuses to take action on important issues, and we must ensure this tool remains a viable option for Missourians to use.
Sign up today for important email alerts to stay up to date on issues affecting your government. While optional, your address and phone number allow us to contact you with important information.