Missouri Baptist Convention journalists, lobbyist meet with members of Supreme Court
February 8, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – The Pathway for the first time participated in the Missouri Supreme Court Media Day Feb. 3 as judges took the better part of one work day to explain some of the inner workings of the state’s top court.
Two Pathway staffers, Don Hinkle, editor, and Allen Palmeri, staff writer, joined about two dozen members of the Capitol press corps as they interacted with judges Steven Limbaugh Jr., Michael Wolff, William Ray Price Jr., Laura Denvir Stith, Richard Teitelman and Mary Rhodes Russell in a roundtable discussion. Chief Justice Ronnie White was the host for the day’s activities, which featured discussions about judicial activism, court procedures and history.
At one point Hinkle directed a cordial line of questioning toward Limbaugh, Price and Russell during a break that focused on a variety of topics including the length of time needed to depose of cases. Hinkle was joined in the exchange by Dan Steinbeck, a Missouri Baptist bi-vocational pastor who works as editor of the Canton Press-News Journal. Steinbeck serves as pastor of Southern Baptist Fellowship Church, Wayland.
The Pathway duo was not the only Missouri Baptists in attendance. Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission, was granted special permission by the bench to attend the media day. Messer became friends with White, a former state representative, through various late-night talks in the State Capitol dating back to the late 1980s. Messer was credentialed for Supreme Court Media Day through the St. Louis MetroVoice, a Christian newspaper that occasionally uses him as a writer.
“I am pleased with the professional openness of all of our high court judges, especially their willingness to dialogue over theological foundations and worldviews,” Messer said. “As I serve to reflect the heart of Missouri Baptists in private meetings with individual justices, and others, I would like to ask Missouri Baptists to pray for me that I would truly be an effective ambassador of Christ. While public policy is vital to our culture and religious liberties, the only ‘top-down’ policy that can redeem anyone is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Veteran reporters who cover the Capitol full-time asked several probing questions on judicial process and philosophy during the roundtable. Judges spoke on the condition that none of their answers would be printed. After the roundtable, Hinkle said that hearing what the judges had to say should improve The Pathway’s legal reporting as the court rules on the moral issues confronting our state.