St. Louis Public Radio News
9:43 am
Thu August 21, 2008

Nominees chosen for Mo. Supreme Court vacancy

Jefferson City, MO – Three nominees have been chosen to fill a vacancy on the Missouri Supreme Court, following Stephen Limbaugh's promotion to the federal bench.

The Appellate Judicial Commission has chosen three current judges for consideration to the state's High Court:

Lisa White Hardwick and Ronald Holliger, who sit on the Western District Court of Appeals, and Atchison County Judge Zel Fischer.

Holliger was also nominated last year after Ron White retired from the Supreme Court. Patricia Breckenridge was chosen instead.

Attorney Thomas Walsh with the group Better Courts for Missouri is not impressed with two of this year's choices.

"Judge Limbaugh had a strong belief in judicial restraint, that judges shouldn't be legislating from the bench...and I know that from (previously) examining the record(s) of Judge Hardwick and Judge Holliger, that neither of them seems to embrace the philosophy of judicial restraint," Walsh said.

But House Minority Leader Paul LeVota (D, Independence), a vocal supporter of the state's system of selecting judges, says the "Missouri Plan" is both fair and diverse.

LeVota also suggests that criticism of Hardwick and Holliger's nominations is unwarranted.

The Wall Street Journal, whose editorial department has been said to lean conservative, wrote last year that Hardwick was well-qualified to serve on the Missouri Supreme Court.

In a written statement issued Thursday evening, Governor Matt Blunt neither praised nor criticized the selections.

He said that he'll "thoughtfully review" the nominees.