What is the Missouri Plan?

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A view of the south side of the Missouri Capitol building in Jefferson City [Zachary Reger]
Missouri’s most notable claim-to-fame in modern legal philosophy is often overlooked.

The state’s constitutionally guaranteed system of merit-based judicial selection — the “Missouri Plan,” as it’s often called — marked a seismic shift in the process of court appointment, one that swept the nation in a grand revision of how we populate many of our appellate and high courts.

By forgoing popular alternatives of direct election and nomination-confirmation of state judges, Missouri ushered in a new “nonpartisan” era of judicial selection.

After the Plan’s initial adoption in the mid-1900s, dozens of states followed, creating merit-based systems of their own. Newly democratic nations across Europe and South America drew inspiration from the Plan in writing their own constitutions, as did even a few established democracies during historic reformation votes.

And Missouri started it all.

What follows is a brief overview of the philosophy and origins of the Missouri Plan, a lightly edited excerpt taken from my undergraduate thesis work at the University of Missouri.

Continue reading “What is the Missouri Plan?”

Is ‘this Trump thing’ sustainable?

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CC BY-SA 2.0 Gage Skidmore

A piece in the Washington Post explores a freshman Kentucky congressman’s recent recess in his heavily Trump-supporting home district.

Read until the end. It’s worth your time.

Republicans went nuclear — now what?

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1946 nuclear test at Bikini Atoll [Public Domain]
After a Democratic filibuster of Neil Gorsuch, Congressional Republicans have exercised the “nuclear option,” dismantling the requirement of a 60-vote cloture movement before voting on Supreme Court nominees. Gorsuch can be confirmed with a mere 51 supporting senators, an up-or-down vote scheduled for Friday.

So what now?

Two law professors write in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that we should “stop worrying and learn to love the nuclear option.”

On the other hand, an opposing law professor writes a piece for U.S. News arguing that to kill the filibuster is to “kill trust in the court.”

When all is said and done, at least one thing is certain — it will have been an excellent day for C-SPAN ratings.

5 leading French presidential candidates face-off in first televised debate

Bored? Mildly curious about French politics?

Then here’s an English-dubbed version of the first French presidential debate.

In the televised debate, held Monday afternoon, five leading candidates discuss politics and policy ahead of the first round of voting on Sunday, April 23. Assuming no candidate passes 50 percent, the top two vote getters will proceed to a direct run-off on Sunday, May 7, where the winner will assume the presidency.

The five candidates, in current polling order:

  1. Marine Le Pen, far-right populist
  2. Emmanuel Macron, centrist EU supporter
  3. François Fillon, center-right former prime minister
  4. Benoît Hamon, left-wing socialist
  5. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, far-left member of the European Parliament

Watch the entire video if you dare — longer than its American counterparts, the debate clocks in at a healthy three hours and 18 minutes.