Decision not to intervene in same-sex marriage rulings sparks legislation by Senate leader

Feb 20, 2015
Originally published on February 20, 2015 4:44 pm

The head of the Missouri Senate wants the authority to intervene in lawsuits whenever the attorney general chooses not to get involved.

The move follows recent court rulings that declared the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Senate President Pro-tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, has filed legislation to give him and the speaker of the House the authority to intervene in cases that challenge the constitutionality of state laws whenever the attorney general chooses not to get involved.  Dempsey accuses Chris Koster, a Democrat, of shirking his duty as attorney general when he chose not to appeal court rulings striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

"In cases when our state's lawyer refuses to defend our Constitution, this measure would allow leaders of the General Assembly to intervene," Dempsey said in a statement released Friday. "A single judge's decision that violates our laws sets a dangerous precedent when the attorney general fails to do his statutory duty. This undermines our core system of three co-equal branches that is essential to protecting our citizens' liberties."

Senate Bill 475 would also allow the House and Senate to hire lawyers to represent them during such challenges.

The Missouri attorney general's office has not yet responded to a request for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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