Missouri’s Senate leader wants to repeal the state’s long established process for selecting judges.
Republican Ron Richard of Joplin isn’t happy with the three candidates a panel’s chosen to fill an opening on the Supreme Court, nor is he pleased with recent high court decisions. When Missourinet asked Richard if he thought the Supreme Court had gone rogue, he responded in the affirmative.
“It has” said Richard. “Good point. You noticed that. Can I use that quote? The press has noticed that the Supreme Court has gone rogue.” Richard contends the panel’s three choices for the bench are not conservative enough. “We may have one of that caliber, but there’s no reason that we shouldn’t have three to pick a strong conservative for the court. That’s my view.”
The panel charged with choosing the three candidates is known as the Appellate Judicial Commission. It’s composed of seven-members and is chaired by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
The other members include three lawyers elected by attorneys from The Missouri Bar and three citizens selected by the governor. The governor then appoints a judge from among the three candidates the commission places before him.
The three chosen to fill the current vacancy are Lisa White Hardwick, Benjamin A. Lipman and W. Brent Powell.
Hardwick is a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District in Kansas City, and is the only African American on the list. Lipman is an attorney with the Lewis Rice law firm in St. Louis. Powell is a circuit court judge in Jackson County.
Whichever candidate Republican Governor Eric Greitens chooses for the bench will go before voters for retention at the end of their term.
Richard says he’s going to check with fellow Republicans to see if there’s consensus for scrapping the current process for choosing judges. The system in place, known as the “Missouri Court Plan”, was established in 1940 with the purpose of blocking the heavy influence of corrupt political machines.
Richard contends the Supreme Court appointees have made decisions which are out of step with public expectations, particularly recent rulings. “Well look what’s happening with the minimum wage in St. Louis” said Richard. “That’s a perfect example here lately.”
That decision allows St. Louis to establish its own minimum pay requirements.
Richards’ GOP colleagues in the legislature filed proposals to reverse the ruling, just days after it was rendered. Dan Hegeman (R-Cosby) filed his measure Wednesday, the last day Senators are allowed to file bills for this year’s session.
It addresses the underlying reason for the Supreme Court’s minimum wage ruling. The court kicked out a law enacted in 2015 which prohibits cities from setting minimum wage standards because the legislation passed by lawmakers dealt with two subjects. Hegeman’s proposal repeals the other subject included in the law and inserts new language reiterating the minimum wage restriction.
Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) chairs a House committee which is hearing two similar bill Monday.
Barnes released a statement Friday in which he praised the court’s decision while he criticized fellow Republicans who complained about it. “Critics of this opinion would prefer that the Missouri Supreme Court pretend that Article III, section 23 did not exist in our Constitution.”