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Missouri Supreme Court's Message? - Impeach Ohmer!

February 26, 2004 – Jefferson City, MO

This day the Missouri Supreme Court, in a 5 to 2 decision, vindicated the state's new concealed carry bill which had been passed after a supermajority of the state legislature overrode Governor Holden's veto last September.

While it is true that the court also found that five counties are due injunctive relief from the new law, that relief is only to the extent that the law constitutes a technical violation of the Hancock Amendment limiting unfunded mandates. This small problem will soon be fixed.

The most important component of the court's decision is the reversal of the earlier ruling by Judge Steven Ohmer based on article I, section 23 of the Missouri Constitution. Note this excerpt from the majority opinion:

Article I, section 23, states:
That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.
(emphasis added).
Plaintiffs contend, and the trial court so held, that the last clause of section 23 "prohibits the wearing of concealed weapons." Read in proper grammatical context, and giving the words their common usage, the clause has no such meaning. To be sure, plaintiffs are correct that the clause is couched as an exception or limitation on the constitutional "right of every citizen to keep and bear arms . . . ." But it means simply that the constitutional right does not extend to the carrying of concealed weapons, not that citizens are prohibited from doing so, or that the General Assembly is prohibited from enacting statutes allowing or disallowing the practice.

The author of the opinion, Judge Stephen Limbaugh, went on to give a brief grammar lesson that even an eleven year old could understand. He then reiterated the courts findings as follows: “There is no constitutional prohibition against the wearing of concealed weapons; there is only a prohibition against invoking the right to keep and bear arms to justify the wearing of concealed weapons.”

This opinion is a tremendous blow to Judge Ohmer's credibility not only because it reversed his opinion, but also because of the brevity with which it dealt with Ohmer's only rationale for declaring the law unconstitutional. Even the dissenting opinion, written by Judge Ronnie White, wouldn't touch the article I, section 23 aspect of the case.

On the other hand, the supreme court thought that the Hancock argument was worthy of much more consideration, using four times as many words to explain the complexities of their decision. This, too, is a blow to Judge Ohmer because he had previously dismissed the plaintiffs Hancock argument altogether!

Judge Ohmer was a double looser when the Supreme Court's decision was published. If it wasn't apparent before, it is abundantly clear now – Judge Ohmer is either guilty of judicial activism or he is grossly incompetent. Whichever the case, he is a worthy subject of impeachment.

While it is true that the time honored system of American justice has prevailed in this case, we cannot ignore the fact that there was an overt attempt to corrupt that system. There is much more at stake than the concealed carry law – the very foundations of our constitutional republic are shaken every time a judge tries to legislate from the bench in violation of their oath to defend the constitution.

It's time for the Missouri house of representatives to give Judge Ohmer a little help. They should relieve him of his judicial responsibilities so he can run for an office in the legislature, where it is appropriate for him to make laws. It's time to impeach Steven Ohmer!

By: Ron Calzone
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To learn more about the impeachment process in Missouri, go to the
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