THE THREE BRANCHES OF STATE GOVERNMENT 491 The debate regarding whether to elect or appoint judges persisted after the adoption of the 1890 constitution. The smaller farm communities of Mississippi increased in number and population, and therefore in political might. In general, residents of such communities favored an elected judiciary. In 1898, Governor Anselm J. McLaurin called on the Legislature to amend the constitution to provide for elected judges. He painted the system of appointed judges as an undesirable remnant of Reconstruction. Before January 1898 ended, both houses of the legislature acted to fulfill the governor’s request. A proposal to amend the constitution to make supreme court, circuit court, and chancery court judgeships elected positions passed each house by the required two-thirds majority. Although the voters approved the amendment by a large margin, about three-to-one, more disputes arose. Immediately before the new provision became effective, a new governor, Governor A.H. Longino, appointed a circuit court judge. Mississippi’s Attorney General filed suit to block the appointment, but the trial judge found that the amendment had been unconstitutionally adopted. On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed. The Judiciary After 1900 Ensconced as it was by the 1890 Constitution, with its appointed judges and bifurcated trial court system, Mississippi’s judicial system in the first part of the twentieth century began hearing disputes sparked by the populism espoused by politicians such as James K. Vardaman and Theodore G. Bilbo, both of whom claimed to represent the interests of the small farmers of the state. The Mississippi Supreme Court dealt with cases that arose from their movement’s goal of making government align more closely with “the will of the people.” In one case, the Court held a new law requiring party primaries to be valid and constitutional, noting that the legislature had every right under the constitution of 1890 to so regulate elections. The installation of the party primary system led to the election of a string of what were then referred to as reform-minded governors, including Vardaman, Edmund F. Noel, Earl Brewer, and Bilbo. The Court ruled on cases involving efforts to reform the correctional system, including one wherein Governor Vardaman attempted to stop the practice of state inmates working for private plantations. He failed because the Court ultimately ruled that the governor had no authority to bring such a suit. However, he ultimately succeeded when the legislature acted to stop the practice. The Supreme Court also struck down an effort by Vardaman to create a special tax which would support schools for “white youth.” The Court held that providing white-only schools supported by taxes on all property whether owned by whites or not violated the Equal Protection Clause. The Supreme Court’s workload grew, and after 1910, efforts began to increase the number of judges. Six different constitutional amendments were proposed by the legislature and passed by the voters of the state. The effect of the amendments, in addition to increasing the number of judges on the Supreme Court from three to six, were remarkable. First, one of the amendments ended the era of appointed judges in Mississippi, and made all judicial positions elected. Second, the Supreme Court was allowed to operate in two divisions of three judges each. Also, the terms of office for Supreme Court judges were set at eight years, where they remain to the current day. The Supreme Court’s opinions during the following CARROLL GARTIN STATUE Donald C. Weiss sculpted the bronze bust of Lieutenant Governor Carroll Gartin. It is located in the Mississippi State Law Library. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE