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Judges should not impose their views

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

If liberal elected officeholders appoint liberal activists judges, you get decisions that run against the wishes of the vast majority of voters. But the fact is that is exactly what is happening in Missouri right now with the most liberal State Supreme Court in our state's history. By the way, the definition as "most liberal" comes not from me but from a top elected state official who just happens to be a Democrat.

There are currently 56 men facing execution in Missouri. But the liberal-leaning Supreme Court of Missouri has found a way to ignore the majority wishes and impose their own philosophy on the death penalty. Since the court shifted to a majority of justices appointed by former Gov. Mel Carnahan and current Gov. Bob Holden, the justices have been reluctant to approve execution dates. That effectively puts the death penalty on hold in Missouri despite massive support from Missourians.

Before 2002, when the Democrat judges took over the majority, execution dates were routinely set within a few weeks of receiving the petition from the Attorney General's office. But the majority of four anti-death penalty judges have changed all of that.

One example: In February of 2002, the court was asked to set an execution date for Vernon Brown who killed a 9-year-old girl in St. Louis 18 years ago. The state has now waited two years and eight months and the Supreme Court has yet to grant their approval. Five other death penalty requests have been before the court for well over a year. The liberal justices simply ignore the requests and effectively impose their views despite the law. That is not right.

Attorney General Jay Nixon is not happy with the situation despite his party affiliation. He should be commended for his strong approach and his outspoken disgust.

The point of all of this is simple. When you vote for a candidate with the power to appoint judges, look carefully at that candidate. Whether on the state or federal level, these activists judges are clearly imposing their beliefs counter to the majority view. That practice makes a mockery of our system and the public needs to understand the impact of their one vote.

The Carnahan and Holden legacy may be portrayed in lofty terms. But the real legacy in this case is a set of judges who impose their liberal agenda. That should dim that legacy a bit.



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