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Case Summary for July 14, 2014


Attached to the following docketed cases are electronic copies of briefs filed by the parties. These electronic briefs have been converted to PDF to accommodate various word processors. If you do not already have Acrobat reader, which is necessary to open the PDFs, you may obtain it free at the Adobe website. (A set of free tools that allow visually disabled users to read documents in Adobe PDF format is available from These briefs do not reflect any opinion of the Court about the appropriateness of the format of the briefs or the merits of the case, nor are they official court records. Copies of all briefs filed with the Court are available at the Supreme Court Building in the court en banc division.

The attachments below may not reflect all briefs filed with the Court, the complete filing or the format of the original filing. Appendices and other attachments generally will not be posted here. To see what documents have been filed in a particular case, visit


1:30 p.m. Monday, July 14, 2014


D. Samuel Dotson III, et al. v. Jason Kander, Missouri Secretary of State, et al.
Cole County
Challenge to ballot title

Listen to the oral argument: SC94293.mp3SC94293.mp3
Dotson and Morgan were represented during arguments by Charles W. Hatfield of Stinson Leonard Street LLP in Jefferson City; Joyce and Peters-Baker were represented by Heidi Doerhoff Vollet of Cook, Vetter, Doerhoff & Landwehr PC in Jefferson City; Schaefer represented himself and Missourians Protecting the Second Amendment; the secretary of state was represented by Deputy Solicitor General Jeremiah J. Morgan of the attorney general's office in Jefferson City; and the legislative leaders and Richard were represented by Marc H. Ellinger of Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch LC in Jefferson City.

Senate joint resolution No. 36 is a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution’s bill of rights regarding the right to keep and bear arms. The legislature passed the resolution in May 2014, and the governor placed the amendment on the state’s August 2014 ballot. The legislature drafted the summary statement to be included in the ballot title for the initiative based on the language of the bill as initially proposed, prior to amendments added throughout the legislative process. In June 2014, the secretary of state certified the summary statement as part of the ballot title and sent early voting ballots to military personnel and to absentee voters. Citizens Samuel Dotson and Rebecca Morgan filed suit against the secretary of state, the leaders of each legislative chamber and resolution sponsors Senators Ron Richard and Kurt Schaefer challenging the sufficiency and fairness of the summary statement. In a separate petition later consolidated with Dotson and Morgan’s claim, citizens Jennifer Joyce and Jean Peters-Baker sought to have the ballot title vacated. A group called Missourians Protecting the 2nd Amendment was allowed to intervene in each case. The circuit court ruled against the citizens on all claims, finding the ballot title and summary statement to be sufficient and fair. The circuit court determined section 115.125.2, RSMo, regarding the procedure for late notice additions to the ballot, barred it from changing the ballot because the election was fewer than six weeks away. All four citizens appeal.

Dotson and Morgan argue the circuit court erred in finding the proposed amendment’s summary statement to be fair and sufficient. They contend the summary statement implies the state constitution currently does not protect the right to keep and bear arms nor require the government to protect that right. Dotson and Morgan assert the summary statement also omits critical information. They argue it fails to disclose that the proposed amendment dramatically will alter the legislature’s authority to regulate weapons and will subject all gun laws to strict scrutiny analysis. Dotson and Morgan contend the circuit court was authorized to remove the initiative from the ballot or, in the alternative, to order the ballot title be corrected. They assert section 115.125.2 only prevents the addition of initiatives or candidates to the ballot, not their amendment or removal. Dotson and Morgan argue they were entitled to a judgment declaring section 116.190, RSMo, regarding the procedure to challenge to a ballot title, unconstitutional because the statute grants power to the judiciary that is reserved for the legislature. They contend that the judiciary is not authorized to redraft legislation as a remedy and that the proposed amendment should have been returned to the legislature for reconsideration.

Joyce and Peters-Baker make substantially the same arguments as Dotson and Morgan. They also argue the proposed amendment’s ballot title should be redrafted or vacated because it does not conform to the requirements of section 116.155, RSMo, regarding summary statements included in ballot titles, or section 116.190. Joyce and Peters-Baker contend the summary statement is misleading to voters because it fails to disclose significant changes the proposed amendment will make to the state constitution, including deleting an exception from constitutional protection for concealed weapons as well as adding constitutional protection for ammunition and gun accessories.

Schaefer and the organization respond that the appeal is moot (no longer presenting any real legal controversy) because this Court’s decision will not have an effect on the current matter. Schaefer and the organization argue that, because military and absentee voting already has begun, the summary statement cannot be changed. They also contend section 115.125.2 prohibits the certification of a corrected official ballot title. Schaefer and the organization assert the summary statement is fair and sufficient. They argue the purpose of the proposed amendment is to declare how the existing state constitutional right to keep and bear arms should be regarded and protected, especially following certain decisions of the United States Supreme Court regarding the federal constitutional right to keep and bear arms. They contend the challenge to the constitutional validity of the judicial remedy in section 116.190 is not ripe (legally not ready for judicial determination) because the circuit court did not apply that remedy in this case. They further argue the judicial remedy under section 116.190 does not violate separation of powers because drafting summary statements is not a power reserved exclusively for the legislature.

The legislative leaders and Richard respond that the circuit court correctly overruled the citizens’ request for a judgment declaring section 116.190 unconstitutional. They argue the state constitution requires a ballot title, which may include a summary statement. The legislative leaders and Richard contend that the legislature validly and unambiguously has authorized courts to review ballot titles and to rewrite insufficient or incorrect summary statements and that this is a proper delegation of authority.



Natalie A. Vowell v. Jason Kander, in His Official Capacity as Missouri Secretary of State
Cole County and St. Louis city
Challenge regarding candidacy requirements

Listen to the oral argument: SC94285.mp3SC94285.mp3
Vowell was represented during arguments by David E. Roland of the Freedom Center of Missouri in Mexico; and the secretary of state was represented by Solicitor General James R. Layton of the attorney general's office in Jefferson City.

In March 2014, Natalie Vowell submitted to the secretary of state her declaration of candidacy to run on the August 2014 ballot for representative of the 78th district of the Missouri House of Representatives. Vowell has resided in St. Louis since 2010 and in the 78th district since 2011, and she has been registered to vote since July 2013. The secretary of state’s office initially filed the declaration but then, in May 2014, sent Vowell a letter questioning whether she met the qualifications to serve as representative under the durational voter registration requirement contained in article III, section 4 of the Missouri Constitution, which states that a candidate “shall have been a qualified voter for two years.” A week later, Vowell filed suit in the Cole County circuit court contesting the secretary of state’s authority to determine unilaterally whether a candidate meets the necessary qualifications. She also sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting Missouri from excluding her from the August ballot, which she asserted would violate her First and Fourteenth amendment rights under the United States Constitution. The secretary of state did not file responsive pleadings but, at the hearing regarding the restraining order, argued that the circuit court must rule on the question of a candidate’s qualifications before the candidate can challenge the secretary’s authority to raise that question. The circuit court dismissed Vowell’s claims, finding that her decision not to register to vote until July 2013 left her ineligible to be a representative candidate on the August 2014 ballot. Vowell appeals.

Vowell argues the circuit court erred in finding that she lacked standing (legal ability) to bring her case. She contends the circuit court should not have considered her qualifications to serve as a representative because, as no one had filed a claim challenging her qualifications, that was not a matter properly before the circuit court. Vowell asserts the secretary of state is not authorized to challenge a candidate’s qualifications to serve. She argues the circuit court should have issued an order preventing the secretary of state from excluding her from the August primary ballot. Vowell contends the secretary of state had a ministerial duty to certify her candidacy because his office had accepted and filed her candidacy and no court order had been issued deeming her unqualified to be certified as a candidate. She asserts the federal constitution precludes enforcement of the state constitution’s durational voter registration requirement because the state requirement violates her federal constitutional rights to travel, due process, equal protection of the law and free speech.

The secretary of state responds that the circuit court correctly found that Vowell lacked standing. The secretary argues that Vowell admits that she does not meet the qualifications for a candidate because she has not been a qualified voter for two years. The secretary contends section 115.387 authorizes the secretary of state to certify candidates who file a declaration of candidacy and who meet the qualifications to be candidates. The secretary asserts the voter registration requirement is constitutional and passes the strict scrutiny test. The secretary argues that Vowell failed to preserve her constitutional challenges for appeal.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and two registered voters of the 78th district argue, as friends of the Court, that Vowell has standing to bring her claims. They contend that Vowell has a legally protectable interest in challenging her removal from the ballot as well as the eligibility requirements. The ACLU and voters assert the term “qualified voter” in article III, section 4 should be construed to mean any individual meeting the constitutional qualifications to vote, not just those individuals registered to vote. They argue the circuit court’s ruling along with the secretary of state’s exclusion of Vowell from the ballot have deprived voters of their right to vote. The ACLU and voters contend the secretary of state is not authorized to determine independently whether a candidate is qualified. They also assert the eligibility requirements for representative candidates are likely unconstitutional.



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