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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

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

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

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.

Credit Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Senate PresidentPro-temTom 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 ChrisKoster, 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

Copyright 2015 St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.