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Our Opinion: Nixon erred in pardoning protestors

News Tribune Editorial January 11, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. | Updated January 11, 2017 at 6:45 p.m.

Outgoing Gov. Jay Nixon erred in pardoning the so-called "Medicaid protesters."

As one of his last official actions, Nixon pardoned 16 religious leaders who were convicted of misdemeanor trespassing while protesting the Senate's unwillingness to expand Medicaid.

The 16 were among 23 charged with the misdemeanor, and 22 convicted after disrupting the Senate's May 6, 2014, debate by singing and chanting in the gallery after a protest rally in the Capitol Rotunda. The 23rd person still awaits trial.

The 16 individuals pardoned were the ones who asked to be pardoned. The others, while also believing their innocence, didn't seek the pardons.

Nothing against the men and women involved in the protest. We personally know some of them. Our reporters have a good working relationship with them. We respect them.

We also respect that they were, and still are, fighting for what they believe is right.

But just as judges demand order in a courtroom, we must have the same in our legislative chambers. If we allow public protests during floor debates, our legislative process will deteriorate into chaos.

We don't know the former governor's rationale for the pardons. Nixon isn't required to give an explanation, and he didn't. Like presidents, governors have the ability to override the justice system, wiping clean the records and eliminating jail sentences and fines of those they choose.

The pardoning ability itself seems to fly in the face of our justice system, but that's an editorial for another day.

At least in the past, Nixon typically explained his pardons. In this case, it especially seems ironic considering Nixon is a tough-on-crime former attorney general who often argued to the state's high court to uphold convictions.

Hopefully, any groups considering disruptions in the House or Senate in the future will understand that the pardons are isolated situations and that any disruptive protests - regardless of the cause - won't be tolerated.


How did Uber do?

On Monday - Missouri's inauguration day - Uber had a one-day arrangement with Jefferson City to offer free rides throughout the day.

It was a way for Jefferson City to roll out the red carpet for visitors coming to see the inauguration. And it was a way for Uber to get its foot in the door and prove to the city that it is capable of providing a reliable transportation service.

How did Uber do? We'd like to hear from you, our readers, if you had any personal experience with Uber on Monday in Jefferson City.

Like letters to the editor, please give us your name and contact information and keep your comments brief and to the point. We'll publish some of the responses on this page later in the week.

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