Can’t disagree with Gov. Parson: Missouri Supreme Court must be free of political bias | Opinion

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

When Missouri Gov. Mike Parson introduced Kelly C. Broniec as his latest appointee to the state Supreme Court, he spoke of the fair and impartial nature of the selection process.

Here, it’s called the Missouri Plan, a nonpartisan, merit-based judicial selection system dating back to the 1940s. We can all thank Tom Pendergast and his corrupt political machine for prompting its creation.

Political leanings have no place on the state’s highest court, Parson told reporters on Tuesday after appointing Broniec to the bench. We don’t disagree. Missouri must keep the state Supreme Court free from political bias.

Missouri’s system works, proponents say. Any further attempts — and there have been many over the years — to do away with a layered selection process that is a model for the rest of the country would not be wise.

Broniec, a Republican from Montgomery County, is chief judge of the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals in St. Louis. In the coming days, weeks and months, we’ll learn more about some of Broniec’s rulings.

From our viewpoint, she is hardly the extremist some of Parson’s appointments have been. For reference, see Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s crusade to delay a petition initiative that would ask voters to restore a woman’s right to an abortion in state.

Thankfully, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Bailey had no right to inflate costs of the initiative artificially.

On Tuesday, Parson’s pick for the high court was chosen because she was most qualified for the job, he said. That may well be true. We support any process that limits the political influence of a judicial nominee to the bench.

Broniec is not a legislator and will not use the bench to make laws, she told reporters.

Her role will be to interpret laws “and apply them to the facts.” she said.

Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Rhodes Russell chaired the seven-member commission that nominated two other finalists to fill the vacancy left by the recent retirement of state Supreme Court Judge George Draper III. Three attorneys elected by members of the Missouri Bar and three state residents appointed by the governor also screened candidates.

Ultimately, Parson has the final say. But the vetting process ensures political ideologies on the Missouri Supreme Court will be limited.

In Missouri, political influence shouldn’t determine who is appointed to the bench. Judge Broniec, we’ll all be watching to see if you keep your promise of using facts to interpret the law, and not politics.