The Corner

Conservatives Declare War on Gov. Blunt


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


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

and suffering.”

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

Governor’s critiques.

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.

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