Legal battle over lieutenant governor appointment lands in court next week

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A lawsuit that could decide whether Governor Mike Parson has the legal authority to appoint a replacement lieutenant governor is headed to court next week.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem is scheduled to hear arguments in the case being brought forward by the Missouri Democratic Party, challenging whether Parson has the power to appoint Sen. Mike Kehoe as the next lieutenant governor.

The Democrats say the appointment should be nullified, while the attorneys for Kehoe and Parson are hoping Beetem will dismiss the case.

Under the Missouri Constitution, the governor has the ability to fill vacancies, though the law is unclear on the position of lieutenant governor – in fact, it’s not listed. Some interpret that to mean the governor does not have that power, others say that the law does not definitively withhold those powers, either.

Several former governors put out statements following Parson’s announcement that he would appoint Kehoe to the role, stating that the Office of the Governor does indeed have the power to appoint such a role, but the only remedy available right now lies in the courts, as the legislature was unable to pass any legislation dealing with the subject in the past session.

The case is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, July 5, at 3 p.m.

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.