The independence of the Missouri Supreme Court produced a better outcome. It’s an example of why no state in the nation that has adopted a version of the Missouri Plan has moved away from it. That fact should put the Missouri legislative debate, and a separate national one over how judges are chosen, into a proper political context.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced that he was appointing a bipartisan commission to study possible changes to the U.S. Supreme Court, from adding seats to changing the lifetime term limits. Biden’s study is being portrayed by Republicans as a politicization of the court. They’re not necessarily wrong, but it’s a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.
Here’s how Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican who is running for U.S. Senate as a converted Trumpist, characterized the effort in a Tweet:
“The radical left is obsessed with packing the Supreme Court. Joe Biden has carried their water so far — will he do it again? Adding more than 9 Justices to #SCOTUS to get a desired result is a terrible idea and should be rejected as an affront to our Republic and the rule of law.”
Never mind that noted “radical left” President Abraham Lincoln had 10 justices on the court during his time in office or that the noted “radical left” Founding Fathers didn’t specify how many justices should be on the court. When he was in the Missouri Senate, Schmitt was a defender of the Missouri Plan. Was he a radical lefty then? What would Schmitt think if Biden’s bipartisan commission came up with ways to make the Supreme Court less political, no matter which party might be in power?