What the Missouri Supreme Court Needs

Article excerpt

With the death of Missouri Supreme Court Judge Elwood Thomas, Gov. Mel Carnahan has the responsibility of finding a replacement for a man hailed by Chief Justice John Holstein as "an outstanding teacher, an outstanding lawyer and outstanding judge." He also has the opportunity to do something that is long overdue - name someone from the St. Louis area to the court.

Judge Thomas, Chief Justice Holstein and the other five members of the state Supreme Court held two distinctions. All were named to their posts by former Gov. John Ashcroft during his eight years in office, and all are from somewhere other than the largest metropolitan area in Missouri. Only one - Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. of Cape Girardeau, Mr. Ashcroft's last appointee - is even from the eastern half of the state. All the others are from Kansas City, mid-Missouri or southwest Missouri.

Does it matter that no one from the St. Louis area sits on the highest court in the state? In an ideal world, maybe it wouldn't; judges would make their rulings based on nothing more than the facts and arguments presented in any particular case, regardless of their background. …