Missouri’s court system has a new boss today. She’s somebody who does not like labels.
Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith, a St. Louis native and a Kansas City resident, takes over the court at a time when those who are on the losing side of cases easily grumble about "activist judges." Stith says applying labels to judges or courts do not help people understand the different roles the legislative and judicial branches play in the American system. She rejects any attempt to label her liberal or conservative, activist or strict constructionist. "I’m none of those things," she says, "I’m a judge" She says she tries to decides a case based on the law and the facts, not on the basis of any label or "pre-existing idea of what the results should be."
She says she has never worked with an "activist" judge in her 13 years on the appeals and supreme courts. And she says she has never seen an activist ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court.
Stith says those who will read court decisions will understand that the judiciary’s role is to be a-political, not for or against any particular law or policy, but to make sure the laws are fairly enforced.
The complete interivew of Chief Justice Stith is part of an earlier story about her:
The interview was recorded in a meeting with reporters last week.