JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Supreme Court has unanimously ruled lawmakers unconstitutionally eliminated funding for the salary of an administrative law judge.
The high court’s April 16, 2019, decision states using the budget to force the termination of an executive branch employee “violates the the separation of powers that is required within the Missouri Constitution.”
Lawrence Rebman, former director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, was appointed appointed by then-Gov. Jay Nixon to an administrative judgeship in March 2013. He was accused of discrimination and retaliation but denied any wrongdoing.
In 2018, the General Assembly approved an operation budget for FY 2019 which only funded administrative law judges appointed before 2012 and after 2015. Redman was the employee hired inside the funding gap. Due to lack of funds, Redman was informed that his employment would be terminated after funding for the fiscal year was completed.
The lower court saw the move as legislative branch encroaching one the powers of the executive branch. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the decision.
“Here, there is nothing to indicate the date restrictions were so essential or inseparable from the remainder of HB2007 to warrant a presumption the general assembly would not have enacted HB2007 without the unconstitutional restrictions. Nor is there any indication the general assembly would have funded no ALJs unless it could restrict funding by an ALJ’s date of appointment,” the Supreme Court’s opinion states.
The ruling permanently enjoins the state from terminating Redman pursuant to the “unconstitutional” appropriations restriction.