Kansas dumps the Missouri Plan

One more area in which Kansas is ahead of Missouri.

According to Carrie Severino in the National Review Online, Governor Brownback today signed legislation repealing the Missouri Plan for selecting appellate judges. In its place Kansas will select judges based on the Federal model: the Governor proposes a nominee whom the state Senate must approve. The selection process is open and above board; it is clear who should be held accountable for bad judges.

Why is this an improvement? The Missouri Plan essentially puts the selection process under the control of eaach state’s bar association, which is usually dominated by trial attorneys. This is the group grown fat from lawsuits like the tobacco settlements. This is the group that won huge settlements over breast implants, though the science they advanced has been proven wrong. They raise the cost of insurance and help create a scarcity of doctors. Think the superrich trial lawyers John Edwards or the billionaire Dickie Scruggs. The Missouri Plan permits trial lawyers to nominate their own for state courts, a clear conflict of interest.

In the Governor’s press release quoted by Miss Severino, Governor Brownback states that Kansans “are entitled to a government that is not beholden to any special interest group.” The usual objection that this reform brings politics into play does not pass the sniff test, since the trial attorneys are the very paradigm of a politically active special interest group. The governor addresses this point clearly: “But judicial independence must rest firmly on the consent of the people. Public confidence is the best and only hedge around the independent judgments of our courts.” Thus the Missouri Plan “fails the democracy test.”

Kudos to the Kansas legislature and governor. May the state of Missouri soon follow and reform the way it selects Supreme Court justices as well as appellate judges.

Troglo  Troglo


Missouri legislators, what part of “NO” don’t you understand?

Article I, Section 13 of the Missouri Constitution’s Bill of Rights reads in part, “That no…law impairing the obligations of contracts….can be enacted.”  Pretty simple stuff – no Philadelphia lawyer needed here.

Yet this most fundamental right of contract, the very foundation of America’s free enterprise system, is once again under attack in our state Capitol.

Under the thin veil of achieving some public protection policy goal, the marketing arm of the alcohol distributors’ associations crafted several bills effectively modifying the terms of existing contracts between alcohol producers and distributors. These bills are making their way through the 2013 legislative process.

Senate Bill 365,  sponsored by Senator Parson of Bolivar, and House Bill 759, sponsored by Representative Jones of California, seek to make alcohol distribution agreements more difficult to terminate by making them subject to franchise statutes.

Adding insult to injury Senate Bill 412, sponsored by Senator Kehoe of Jefferson City, seeks to prevent beer producers from distributing their own products or those of other producers by making it illegal for producers to own any interest in any distributorship. This proposed state intervention goes beyond “impairing the obligations of contracts” to benefit a few favored interests, namely beer distributors. This is naked protectionism, pure and simple, shameful intervention in the free market, devoid of any conceivable public interest.

These bills, if enacted, would increase prices in the marketplace, inhibit or eliminate new start-up producers and distributors, reduce the number of the jobs they would create, as well as limit consumer choice in the market place.

When suppliers are effectively prevented from terminating distribution contracts, possible innovation, efficiency, and better choice are not the only things that suffer – our liberty – our freedom and sacred right to contract suffer. The freedom to contract at the heart of this issue is the very thing that our founders protected under our Missouri Bill of Rights. It’s as basic as our freedom of speech and our freedom to bear arms.

Statutes that ignore this right are a corruption of the legal system. There is a significant correlation between legal and illegal corruption. One need only think of the baleful consequences of  Amendment XVIII to the U.S. Constitution, Prohibition.

The Missouri General Assembly should decisively REJECT these corruptions of our legal and free enterprise system.

Bruce Hillis

Bruce Hillis

Name that party – Kilpatrick edition

Name that party has long been a fun parlor game. Our news media’s reluctance to identify as Democrats politicians who have committed criminal offenses, while showing no such restraint for Republicans, is so well known as to have become hackneyed and subject to ridicule.

The news media, aware that knowledge of their bias is widespread, have adopted a new tactic: instead of just suppressing the miscreants’ party affiliation, they now spike the entire story. While they may think it harder for us to decry non-coverage than biassed coverage, the absence of major stories arouses curiosity and raises telling questions.

This new twist can be seen in the case of Kwame Kilpatrick, scion of a political family and the former mayor of Detroit. He has already served over a year in the hoosegow for obstruction of justice and parole violation. On March 13 he was convicted of 24 counts of racketeering. He faces up to 20 more years in jail. This should have been big news. It is even more significant now that the bankrupt city of Detroit has essentially been placed into receivership by the state. It doesn’t take a genius to see a connection between corruption in the political class and the collapse of city government.

As reported by NewsBusters, the television networks ABC, CBS, and NBC did not find Mr. Kilpatrick’s troubles worthy of mention.

We are heartened that some left-wing outlets are still playing by the good old, true-and-true rules of our game. PBS reported the court decision, but, faithfully honoring the traditions of left-wing journalism, omitted mention that he is a Democrat. Joining in on the fun, the Washington Post, in a story about SEC charges that Mr. Kilpatrick played fast and loose with Detroit’s pension funds, also could not find room to add a (D) after the former mayor’s name.

The game always comes to a satisfying conclusion with this reflection: If it had been a Republican, … well, you know the rest.


60X70 scaled

Illinois – our premier state basket case

We have written earlier about the parlous state of Illinois’s and Chicago’s pension funds for public employees. It is good sport to follow what happens when a government is controlled by Democrats for decades on end. However, the state is bipartisan at least to the extent that several recent Democrat and one Republican governor have served jail time. The state is in the news again, this time standing accused of fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission. For only the second time in history a state is accused of defrauding investors in its public pensions bond issues by lying about the pensions’ financial condition from 2005 to 2009. The bonds in question totalled more than $2.2 billion. It will surprise no one that the underwriter, Bear Stearns, made “improper” payments to then Governor Blagojevich in order to get this business. This corruption is nothing new, nor is the underfunding of the pension system, which has been going on for three decades. We note that the Illinois legislature, under heavy pressure from government unions, recently rejected the modest pension reforms proposed by the Governor. This disaster about to happen has prompted some to call for a Federal bailout. But in the words of President Obama, there is no “immediate” crisis.

This only made the news as a settlement was announced. The terms of the deal are that Illinois accepted a slap on the wrist, admitted no guilt, instituted a few reforms, and promised not to do it again. No penalties were assessed.

We can imagine what the penalties would have been had a private firm made such “improper disclosures.” The hatred of “big business” and indulgence for government  embedded in the DNA of progressives has infiltrated the SEC. It is worth noting that the madness of the Illinois state government is not limited to finances. Governor Quinn has urged his Attorney General to appeal the Federal court decision reaffirming the Second Amendment rights of Illinois citizens.



February Quotes of the Month

The real choice today is between bigger or smaller unintelligent government. — George Will

There are a lot of things I don’t know about, said Chuck Hagel. If confirmed, I intend to know a lot more than I do….It doesn’t matter what I think. It does matter what you think,” insisted New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte.

Ari Fleischer with the line of the weekend: “I don’t know if Sen. Bob Menendez belongs in the Senate, but he definitely belongs on the foreign relations committee.”

Missouri Representative Chris Kelly, Democrat of Columbia, showing his command of litotes regarding proposed legislation to require photo IDs to vote: “Jim Crow is alive in this room today. This is the single most immoral act that I have ever seen happen in my time in the General Assembly.”

After President Obama’s State of the Union address, a reader sent me (Jay Nordlinger in the Corner, a blog of the National Review) a passage from a Philip Roth novel, I Married a Communist. I’m not sure why this passage occurred to our reader:

The lying. A river of lies. Translating the truth into a lie. Translating one lie into another lie. The competence people display in their lying. The skill. Carefully sizing up the situation and then, with a calm voice and a straight face, delivering the most productive lie. Should they speak even the partial truth, nine times out of ten it’s in behalf of a lie

George Will relates this anecdote about Silent Cal, President Coolidge. When President and Mrs. Coolidge were being given simultaneous but separate tours of a chicken farm, Grace asked her guide whether the rooster copulated more than once a day. “Dozens of times,” she was told. “Tell that to the president,” she said. When told, Coolidge asked, “Same hen every time?” When the guide said, “A different one each time,” the president said: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”

“$1,000/hr: Obama books world’s top golf pro for vacation.” Breitbart.com relates that the President has engaged Butch Harmon – excellent choice, by the way – for lessons during his post-Valentine’s Day weekend get-away in Palm City, Florida. We wonder what the minimum wage should be for top-drawer teaching golf pros? Apparently the President has a handicap of 18 – mediocre, but much better than his score on improving the economy, we say.

Anyone who thinks he can be happy & prosperous by letting the government take care of him better look closely at the American Indian. – Henry Ford

Picture of the month for Feb