President Bush nominates Missouri Baptist judge
By Bob Baysinger
March 2, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – Duane Benton, the Missouri Baptist judge who has been a member of the state Supreme Court since 1991, has been nominated by President Bush to fill a vacancy on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
“I am overwhelmed, pleased and honored – all at the same time – that President Bush would nominate me," Benton said. “I hope to prove that he made a good choice and will work hard to be a good federal judge."
Benton’s name is now before the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary. The committee evaluates the professional qualifications of persons nominated to the federal judiciary.
The investigation process will include an evaluation of Benton’s integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament. According to ABA guidelines, Benton’s ideology also will be considered.
Benton, a long-time Sunday School teacher, displays a Bible on a table in the entryway to his office. He is a deacon and trustee at First Baptist Church, Jefferson City.
Following the evaluation process, which is expected to be completed by late March, Benton will be given a qualification rating. If the committee determines that he is qualified, his name will be submitted to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.
Born in Springfield, Benton grew up in Mountain View, Willow Springs and Cape Girardeau. He is a 1972 graduate of Northwestern University, where he was graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from Yale law school in 1975.
Benton, 53, was appointed to Missouri’s highest court by former Governor and current U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
He served as director of the Missouri Department of Revenue from 1989 to 1991, worked in private law practice in Jefferson City, was chief of staff to Republican Rep. Wendell Bailey from 1980 to 1982 and served as a judge advocate in the U.S. Navy from 1975 to 1979.
Benton retired from the Naval Reserve as a captain after 30 years of active and reserve duty. He is a Vietnam veteran.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court covers seven states, including Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Minnesota. Judges regularly hear cases in St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Omaha.