House memembers push for impeachment of long-time pro-abortion judge
By Allen Palmeri
April 13, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – A Missouri House of Representatives resolution signed by 34 legislators is calling for the impeachment of U.S. District Court Judge Scott O. Wright, Kansas City, over his handling of two abortion cases that are languishing in his courtroom and have yet to become law.
Nine Missouri Baptist representatives signed the resolution, which was sponsored by Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar and a member of First Baptist Church, Lamar. Support for the resolution came from all parts of the state. Among those supporting the resolution is a member of the House Republican Leadership team, Rep. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield. Purgason attends First Baptist Church, West Plains.
“Functionally, we’ve just allowed judicial creep," Emery said. “Little by little, it has gotten to the place where we kind of serve at their pleasure. If we pass a law, a single judge can decide to overrule 200 legislators."
In Missouri, that single judge has been Wright, 81, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. For five years he has tied up the partial birth abortion law in his courtroom, and he appears to be playing the same delay game with the 2003 state law requiring a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, lawmakers say. Emery, Purgason and seven other Missouri Baptist legislators have become increasingly frustrated Wright, who appears to be sympathetic to pro-abortion Planned Parenthood attorneys.
“Every branch will seek to break out of its jurisdiction," Emery said. “That’s why it’s called checks and balances. When one branch goes beyond its authority, it’s the duty of the other branches to insist that those lines be maintained. In the legislative branch, federal or state, we have failed to take our responsibility seriously through the years.
“It’s kind of like a tugboat and a tanker. The way a tugboat gets a tanker turned is it just keeps pushing. I think that’s what we have to do. We have to remember that it isn’t one big hammer blow that changes anything as big as one of the branches of government. It’s continual pressure until we see some movement, and if that movement is in the right direction, we keep pressure until that finally gets back into balance."
The Missouri Baptist “tugboat" pushing on Judge Wright consists of: Emery; Purgason; Rep. Brian Baker, R-Belton, assistant pastor and ministry director, First Baptist Church, Belton; Rep. Lanie Black, R-Charleston, First Baptist Church, Charleston; Rep. Roy Holand, R-Springfield, Second Baptist Church, Springfield; Rep. Allen Icet, R-Wildwood, Ballwin Baptist Church; Rep. Jack Jackson, R-Wildwood, deacon, First Baptist Church, Ellisville; Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, deacon, First Baptist Church, Neosho; and Rep. Dennis Wood, R-Kimberling City, deacon, First Baptist Church, Kimberling City.
Emery said the goal is to establish a foothold in correcting an imperial judiciary. Judge Wright represents a reasonable entry point.
“I don’t know that they want to be that (an imperial judiciary), but I think they’ve been taught that they are," Emery said. “The way we re-educate them is we re-take the ground that is supposed to belong to us.
“When it began to be accepted that they were the ones who could rule something unconstitutional, this idea of checks and balances suddenly became very difficult. Now it’s like they have the trump card in every situation. If they want to exert that trump card, all they have to do is declare something a constitutional issue and suddenly they are in charge of it."
The House Rules Committee took no action on the resolution April 1, and Emery said that further action is unlikely. Even so, he said the resolution has been successful in that it has raised awareness that impeachment is a viable option within our government. It takes a majority vote of the U.S. House to impeach a judge and a 2/3 vote in the U.S. Senate to convict.
Wright was forced to respond to the resolution. He told The Associated Press that all he did on abortion cases was “follow the law." Emery wondered what he meant by that.
“He’s supposed to be following the Constitution," Emery said. “A big issue there is the difference between constitutional law and case law. It’s a connect-the-dots picture. If you start connecting dots and never raise your pencil off the paper, then you get to a place where there are only a few paths open to you. But if you could just raise your pencil off the paper and start on any dot that was the right dot, you could draw a whole different picture.
“I think what we’ve done today with case law is we have drawn such a convoluted picture of law and what is truly constitutional that nobody really knows what the picture is anymore. There are too many wrong decisions and wrong issues, and everybody is trying to base their decisions on those wrong decisions, and as a result, nobody ever picks up the Constitution."
Emery said the 34 lawmakers who signed the resolution were simply doing their duty. It is a grassroots effort in that none of them is an attorney.
“Any attorney who’s even willing to talk about impeachment is demonstrating courage," he said.