Missouri's Constitution of 1821 provided for the appointment of all superior court judges by the governor, in the manner which prevailed in most of the states then members of the union. With the advent of Jacksonian democracy, a feeling developed that all persons holding important public positions should be elected by the voters, and most of the states opted for the popular election of trial and appellate judges. In 1848, Missouri amended its constitution to provide for popular election of all judges, including judges of the Supreme Court, on partisan tickets at the regular biennial elections. Missouri continued to elect judges in this manner until 1942, when a constitutional amendment bearing the title "Nonpartisan Selection of Judges" was placed on the ballot and approved by a majority of the voters. The amendment applied only to judges of the Supreme Court, the three regional courts of appeal, and the circuit courts in the City of St. Louis and Jackson County. In later years, the voters of St. Louis County, Clay County, and Platte County have chosen to select their circuit and associate circuit judges in the same manner. The method of selection provided for in the 1940 amendment has been known as the "Missouri Plan." It has been copied in whole and in part by quite a few states. In this essay it will be referred to for convenience simply as "the Plan."

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