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Posted on Apr. 11, 2007
By Mike Holzknecht
Springfield News-Leader

Protect State's Judicial Branch

"Don't let them do it." Powerful.

The News-Leader has stood up to the current Republican leadership in Jefferson City, much like Thomas Jefferson and the founders of our nation stood up to the king of England. ("Voters can stop judicial attack," April 6).

Of course Gov. Matt Blunt and his legislature show incredible disrespect for Missouri's judges (the judicial branch) when they allege with no evidence "that the state's judges are willing to ignore the Constitution."

This administration has indeed "proven time and time again that they are willing to ignore the Constitution if it serves their purposes."

As the former Hickory County prosecutor, and for over 20 years a trial lawyer fighting for the rights guaranteed us by our Constitution, I have seen other examples that this "big business first" governor and his legislature are hell-bent on dismantling the rights to which we, the people, are entitled. In each instance, this administration has begun its attack with rhetoric and unfounded allegations which are refuted by the facts.

Recently this administration has threatened that "unfounded nuisance lawsuits" are driving farmers out of business and that they must pass the so-called "Farm and Food Preservation Act" (SB 364). We are not told that this law will strip local governments of their authority to protect their communities from the unbridled expansion of corporate hog and poultry CAFOs which dump millions of gallons of untreated animal waste onto their neighbors' land and homes; nor that it will also completely strip our families of our constitutional right to defend our own homes, in a court of law when necessary, against the invasion of our property rights.

We were also told that medical malpractice lawsuits were overwhelming our courts and were the reason for doctors' skyrocketing insurance premiums.

In fact, medical malpractice cases comprise less than 1 percent of all civil cases filed in Missouri, whereas contract and business disputes comprise more than 80 percent. Even the Missouri Hospital Association concluded that "medical malpractice claims and the cost of those claims have not contributed in any significant way to the sudden increase in medical professional liability insurance," but this report was kept "confidential." Medical malpractice premiums and health care costs have not gone down as promised, but the health care and insurance lobbies got the special protection they wanted.

There was also this administration's unconstitutional effort to impose additional burdens on legally registered voters, especially the urban poor, elderly, disabled, and divorced, but once in court the sponsor could produce no evidence whatsoever of any "voter impersonation fraud," which was the supposed justification for his so-called "Photo I.D. Law."

Our governor has said that Thomas Jefferson was, of all our founders, his favorite. He's mine, too, and here's what he said: "Trial by jury is the only anchor yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its Constitution." Our founders didn't trust the government, and neither should we.

The judicial branch is our last resort to protect us and our Constitution from this administration. It is no wonder the courts are next on their list. As you so powerfully put it: "Don't let them do it!"

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Mike Holzknecht of Stockton is the former Hickory County prosecuting attorney and former president and co-founder of the Missouri Republican Attorneys for Civil Justice.

Springfield News-Leader: http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070411/OPINIONS/704110324/1091

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