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Kinder selects Hearne as chief lawyer in fight against federal health-care law

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 14, 2010 - Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder just announced that the St. Louis region's own Thor Hearne, a prominent Republican lawyer and operative, will handle his planned lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the recently signed federal health care law.

"I am grateful to have Thor representing the voices of the citizens of Missouri in this case," Kinder said. "Thor’s vast experience and background will assure Missourians’ interests receive some of the most sound and vigorous representation in the country."

As Kinder's bio of Hearne notes:

"Hearne is a partner with the Washington, D.C. based firm Arent Fox LLP. He is one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional and election law attorneys. Hearne successfully represented the leadership of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House appearing as amicus curiae before the U.S. Supreme Court. Hearne routinely handles complex constitutional and civil rights litigation against the federal government. He has appeared and argued significant federal and state constitutional issues before various U.S. Courts of Appeal as well as the Missouri, Michigan and Kansas state Supreme Courts. In 2004, he served as President Bush’s national election counsel in the presidential re-election campaign."

Said Hearne in a statement: "I consider it an honor and a privilege to represent the lieutenant governor and advise him in his role as an advocate for Missouri’s elderly and in his defense of all Missouri citizens’ constitutional rights. We are considering the unique constitutional concerns the federal health-care bill raises for Missouri citizens, taxpayers and, especially, how this bill affects the health care options available to Missourians over 65 years old."

Hearne had directed the now-defunct conservative group, the American Center for Voting Rights, which was established in March 2005 and advocated various legislative and legal efforts to require a government-issued photo ID at the polls. Such a law has been upheld in Indiana and Georgia, but the Missouri Supreme Court tossed out such a law here in late 2006, saying it violated the state's constitution. 

(That high-court decision is why Republicans in the Missouri Legislature, led by state Rep. John Diehl -- former chairman of the St. Louis County Election Board -- are advancing a new voter-ID bill this session, along with a proposed constitutional amendment.)

Hearne most recently addressed a Tea Party-aligned group, I Heard the People Say, here in February about voting-rights issues.

Back to health care -- Kinder announced earlier this month that he planned to challenge parts of the federal health-care law, which he says will impose improper burdens, including financial ones, on Missouri residents.

Kinder notes that officials in more than 20 other states are also pursuing legal action against the health- care legislation. At least week's Tea Party gathering in Clayton, Kinder said he and his legal team, would advance "unique'' legal arguments that he believed would have traction in court.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.