Proposals seek Missouri court changes

Backers of proposals to have judges of the Missouri Supreme Court and Court of Appeals elected rather than appointed can begin working to put the questions to a statewide vote.

The secretary of state's office this week approved the proposed ballot language for two identically worded amendments to the Missouri Constitution. The approval clears the way for proponents to begin seeking enough signatures from registered voters to earn spots on the 2014 statewide ballot.

Judges of the state Supreme Court and the three-district Court of Appeals are now appointed by the governor from slates of finalists forwarded by special nominating commissions.

Besides having the judges elected by popular votes, the proposals would also increase the membership of the Missouri Supreme Court to nine from the current seven.