Missouri Supreme Court upholds appointment of Lt. Gov. Kehoe
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Gov. Mike Parson’s appointment of Mike Kehoe as the state’s lieutenant governor.
In a 5-2 decision written by Chief Justice Zel Fischer, the Supreme Court said the state constitution gives the governor the authority to fill all vacancies in public offices unless state law lays out another way of doing so. Because state law provides no other means of filling a vacancy for lieutenant governor, “Governor Parson was within his constitutional authority when he appointed Kehoe to the office of Lieutenant Governor,” Fischer wrote.
Kehoe took office amid a shuffling of state officeholders that began after former Gov. Eric Greitens resigned in the face of potential impeachment last June. Parson had been serving as lieutenant governor and was elevated to the state’s top executive position. He appointed fellow Republican Kehoe to replace him as lieutenant governor.
Parson lauded the ruling.
“Missouri’s constitution is clear regarding the authority to make gubernatorial appointments,” he said in a statement. “It’s important that Missouri have all of the statewide offices filled, which work to provide stability and to ensure that all Missourians are being served appropriately.”
Missouri’s governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately.
The Missouri Democratic Party and a man named Darrell Cope sued hours after Parson named Kehoe as second-in-command. They alleged that the governor does not have the authority to name a lieutenant governor and asked to keep the position vacant until an election could be held to fill it.
Supreme Court Judges George Draper III and Patricia Breckenridge agreed with that argument. Draper wrote in a dissent that he believes state law prohibits the governor from appointing a lieutenant governor and that the office should have remained vacant until the next general election.
Missouri Democratic Party Executive Director Lauren Gepford in a Tuesday statement said the party respects the Supreme Court’s decision, “which clears up a grey area within the law.”
“Governor Parson has won the power to appoint the state government of his choosing, which he has done by appointing his own Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer,” she said, citing additional appointments that Parson made during the state office reshuffling. “We look forward to holding him accountable for his own performance in office as well as the performance of his appointees.”