Missouri Supreme Court Judge

Gov. Mike Parson listens as the newest member of the Missouri Supreme Court, Judge Robin Ransom, addresses the media Monday at his Capitol office in Jefferson City. The associated Press

We applaud the governor’s recent appointment of Missouri Eastern District Appeals Court Judge Robin Ransom, who is set to be the first Black woman to serve on the Missouri Supreme Court.

Gov. Mike Parson on Monday appointed Ransom to serve on the state high court, where she will also be only the third Black judge on the court. Parson noted the historic appointment but said Ransom’s hard work earned her the position. Ransom will replace Judge Laura Denvir Stith, who was the second woman appointed to the high court. Stith retired in March.

This is one of a series of recent actions countering the state’s challenging history in race relations.

The Missouri Legislature in April formally denounced the 1852 Missouri Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case that denied on appeal freedom for Scott, his wife and their daughters. The U.S. Supreme Court later upheld the Missouri court’s decision.

That decision heightened tensions between free and slave states, and between slaveholders and abolitionists. It was a stepping stone that moved the nation closer to the Civil War.

“We declare the March 22, 1852, Missouri Supreme Court Dred Scott decision is fully and entirely renounced,” the resolution reads.

Race remains an explosive topic, including more recent matters, such as the 2014 fatal shooting of an unarmed, Black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, by a white Ferguson police officer. Brown’s death sparked months of protests that were sometimes violent.

The Missouri NAACP also issued a travel advisory for the entire state in June 2017. The national NAACP took up the warning in August of that year. The warning remains in place.

Black communities and organizations continue to seek fair treatment by police and the courts. Lawmakers advanced that effort this session by restricting chokeholds by police in a law limiting use of force and strengthening background checks for police.

“I can’t cure all of the social ills and injustices that are out there, and this appointment won’t do that,” Ransom said. “What this appointment does show is that this governor has the courage to make such an appointment, that he has great vision for this state, and he knows how great this state is and what this state can be.”

Our state is moving in the right direction in a responsible and responsive way. The governor’s appointment is the latest demonstration of good faith and good intent.

That is worth celebrating.

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