The Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City has issued an opinion, which says Governor Mike Parson (R) acted within his constitutional authority when he appointed Mike Kehoe as lieutenant governor.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem speaks in court in Jefferson City on July 5, 2018 (pool photo courtesy of “News-Tribune” photographer Mark Wilson)

In a 5-2 decision issued Tuesday afternoon, the Supreme Court ruled that Governor Parson acted within his constitutional authority under Article IV, section four of the Missouri Constitution, which provides that the governor “shall fill all vacancies in public office unless otherwise provided by law.”

The five words “unless otherwise provided by law” was a key point raised by both sides, when the Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in November.

Lt. Governor Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) spoke to Missourinet after the ruling. Kehoe says he’s pleased with the Supreme Court decision, adding that he’s spoken to Governor Parson about it.

The governor tweeted after the ruling:

“The Lt. Governor is an important office, and I applaud the MO Supreme Court’s decision today which confirms the position, as well as the position of previous Governors from both parties, that the Governor has the authority to appoint a Lt. Governor in the event of a vacancy.”

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued a nine-page ruling in July, which said that plaintiffs Darrell Cope of Hartville and the Missouri Democratic Party lacked authority to remove the lieutenant governor by litigation.

Missouri Democratic Party attorney Matthew Vianello asked Judge Beetem this summer to issue a ruling which said the governor cannot appoint a lieutenant governor, when the lieutenant governor position is vacant.

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