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Support dwindles for Amendment 3

Kyle Stokes

A Missouri ballot measure proposing to change how judges are appointed is losing support. Amendment 3’s supporters say they don’t like the summary that will appear on the ballot.

Amendment 3 will show up on Missouri ballots come Nov. 6, but its supporters say they’re not happy with what voters will read about it.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan wrote the summary of the amendment for the ballot, but supporters say the summary is misleading and filed suit.

Stacey Temple, communications director for Carnahan, says both the circuit and appeals court ruled the summary was worded fairly.

Temple says the legislature could have written its own summary of the ballot, but chose not to.

“What it sounds like is going on now is the proponents have decided that they either don’t like the language of the underlying measure or they don’t think they can win so they’re looking for a reason to justify their decision not to pursue it," Temple says.

Better Courts of Missouri is one supporter of the amendment. It gave $80,000 to a campaign for the measure, but announced Tuesday it will drop plans for a future campaign.

In a press release, Rich Chrismer, with Better Courts of Missouri, blamed special interest, saying as it’s worded now, the summary could prevent Missourians from having an accurate picture of the reform they’re voting on. The current court plan for choosing judges allows a nominating commission of three attorneys selected by the Missouri Bar, three gubernatorial appointees and a Supreme Court Judge to choose a panel of three finalists.

The governor appoints a judge from that final group.

The amendment would change that to allow the governor to appoint four members to the panel and the Supreme Court judge would be an advisor — not a voting member.

Jack Cardetti, spokesperson for theMissourians for Fair and Impartial Courts Committee, says the measure gives the governor too much power.

“Amendment 3 would give the governor of the state the majority of the appointees to the judicial nominating commission," Cardetti says. "That essentially takes away all the checks and balances of the current system.”

Cardetti says although the amendment’s supporters have stopped campaigning, the committee intends to continue its opposition.