(The Center Square) – Missouri’s Supreme Court will soon have a female majority as Republican Gov. Mike Parson on Monday announced Ginger Gooch would replace retiring Judge Patricia Breckenridge.
Gooch, who was appointed by Parson to the Southern District Court of Appeals in 2022, was a clerk for Ann Covington, the first female justice on Missouri’s highest court in the 1990s. Gooch will join female justices Robin Ransom and Kelly Broniec, appointed by Parson, and Chief Justice Mary Russell on the seven-member court.
“With her appointment, the third to the court, we have truly reshaped and strengthened the makeup of the state’s highest court for decades to come,” Parson said.
Gooch, 47, was a partner with Husch Blackwell LLP in Springfield for 15 years before Parson appointed her to the appellate court. Parson said it was the first time in more than 30 years a governor appointed two Supreme Court judges in the same year. He appointed Justice Broniec in September. He also addressed appointing someone from southwest Missouri to the court for the first time in several decades.
“I’ll admit, being from southwest Missouri, I’m glad to see some representation from our part of the state on the bench,” said Parson, who operates a farm in Bolivar. “But geography is not why Judge Gooch rose to the top. We chose her because she is the most qualified candidate – end of story.”
Gooch was one of three nominees submitted by the Appellate Judicial Commission. Gooch said she discerned whether to apply and evaluated the responsibility of the position and the change in lifestyle for her husband and son.
“But I think it boils down to wanting somebody to do the job the way that I know it should be done,” Gooch said. “And I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant because I don’t mean it that way at all. But it’s very important to me that the Supreme Court needs to be an amazing institution like I experienced when I clerked there.”
Parson admitted he didn’t think he would be interviewing as many Supreme Court candidates and downplayed any influence of a female majority.
“The one thing about the law, and maybe because I was in law enforcement for so long … I think the question was asked would it change the opinion of the Supreme Court if it is a majority of women. The law is the law. There is no gender to it. And whoever is in those positions, it’s about enforcing and interpreting the law as it’s written.”