A history-making state supreme court judge prepares to step away from the bench and admits that a bill passed by this year’s legislature has helped push him off.
Judge William Ray Price is the last of Governor John Ashcroft’s appointees to leave the court. Only eight other judges in the 190-plus year history of the court have served s long or longer than his 21 years. He is one of only a few judges to serve as Chief Justice twice. During his time on the court he has served with 14 other judges.
But Price says it’s time to go. He admits a proposed constitutional amendment changing the non-partisan plan used to pick appeals court judge had an impact on his decision. “I think the…Missouri Plan has served the state well or 70 years. I think it’s a tremendous mistake to change it. I would like my successor to be appointed under the same plan,” he says.
Republicans in the legislature have sent a proposed constitutional change to the November ballot that would add two non-lawyers to the committee that nominates judges to fill vacancies in state appellate courts. Critics say approval of that idea would give the Governor too much power in the selection of judges on the state’s highest courts.
He plans to go back to private practice after he leaves August first.
Price will leave it to others to decide if he has been an “activist judge,” a phrase he says is meaningless because “activism is in the eye of the beholder.”