To: Our Friends in Missouri
From: Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Paul Weyrich, Free Congress Foundation
Kay Daly, Coalition for a Fair Judiciary
Date: Thursday, September 6, 2007
SUBJECT: GOV. BLUNT’S BLUNDER
We are shocked to learn of Gov. Matt Blunt’s likely decision to appoint Missouri Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Breckenridge to the Missouri State Supreme Court. Our understanding is that within the past 24 hours Gov. Blunt called several party leaders and donors to his political campaign to inform them this decision has been made.
After months of rightly criticizing the secretive, over-politicized process of selecting judges in Missouri, Gov. Blunt has evidently caved in and decided to abide by that very process. Too many politicians have suffered the fate of trying to have issues both ways, and this may be the final strike for Gov. Blunt. Such an action would make it clear he is not a principled conservative.
Conservatives need to let Governor Blunt know that we will not tolerate this type of equivocation on issues of such concern to Missourians. If he names Judge Breckenridge, Governor Blunt will have flip-flopped on judicial reform. Judge Breckenridge will inevitably become Gov. Blunt’s version of David Souter. Every liberal ruling she issues, or concurs with, from the State Supreme Court bench will be attached to Gov. Blunt as all of David Souter’s decisions are attached to President George H.W. Bush.
Judge Breckenridge already has a liberal record.
. A history of concurrences – Judge Breckenridge agreed with Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith, arguably the most liberal member of the Missouri Supreme
Court, 100% of the time in the 51 cases authored by Judge Stith when the two
served together on the Court of Appeals.
. Rulings indicate opposition to death penalty – Judge
Breckenridge’s liberal record in related criminal cases all but guarantees
that she would join the current liberal majority and prevent the application
of death penalty laws. In a very recent and controversial case, Judge
Breckenridge reversed the conviction of Steven Rios, a Columbia man who
slashed his young victim’s throat. She ruled that it was “prejudicial” for
evidence to be presented showing the defendant’s motive for committing the
. Making it easier for rapists and child molesters to go free – In
Kuehne v. State Judge Breckenridge sided with the defendant on his appeal
for relief after his conviction. The defendant had been convicted after his
young daughter and her mother testified that the defendant had sexual
intercourse with the daughter twice; engaged in other lurid acts; and threatened to cut off her and her mother’s head if she told anyone about what he was doing.
. Rulings do not bode well for pro-lifers – Because the Court of
Appeals almost never hears cases involving abortion rights, Judge
Breckenridge has not directly ruled on this issue. But her record in cases
involving drug possession reveals a very strong tendency to favor the same
constitutional “right to privacy” that liberal judges have used to protect
abortion on demand.
. Rulings indicate more excessive awards in civil lawsuits – In
Briggs v. Kansas City Southern a man was awarded $150,000 after he injured
himself by falling over a railroad tie plate. The trial judge reduced that
award to $40,000 because $150,000 was excessive. Judge Breckenridge
reversed the trial court and reinstated the higher award because of “pain
If Gov. Blunt truly meant what he has been saying for months about the
corrupt judicial selection process in Missouri, he would have sent back the
Judicial Selection Commission’s three recommended candidates, including
Judge Breckenridge. All three candidates were poor choices, validating the
Until recently Gov. Blunt appeared willing to do the right thing, and not
saddle the state of Missouri – and his legacy – with another version of
David Souter. Unfortunately, he has evidently done a 180 degree flip
that will likely ill-serve the people of Missouri for the next generation.
He is abandoning conservatives in Missouri and nationally with this decision.
This would be the third time in just the past year he has snubbed Missouri
conservatives on issues of grave importance. First he supported embryonic
stem cell research by embracing and promoting the deception of Amendment 2.
Then he rejected legitimate efforts to correct that deception by opposing
the recently launched campaign for an amendment banning human cloning in
Missouri. And now, after much sound and fury signifying nothing, he has
evidently passed on an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on judicial
reform and take the veil of secrecy off the state judicial selection process.
It’s time to tell Governor Blunt: Three strikes and you’re out!
NOTE: This post has been corrected since posting. Originally a draft version of this letter was up.