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Court Case Tracker

Pippens v. Ashcroft

Eight Missouri citizens are challenging the summary statement of a proposed constitutional amendment that would undermine key provisions of the state’s citizen-initiated redistricting reform passed in 2018.

Last Updated: September 9, 2020
Published: May 18, 2020

Note: The Brennan Center is not a participant in this case.

Case Background

On May 18, 2020, eight Missouri citizens filed a petition with the Circuit Court of Cole County challenging the summary statement of a proposed constitutional amendment passed by the state legislature, Senate Joint Resolution 38. The proposed amendment, which is slated to appear on the November 2020 ballot, would undermine key provisions of the redistricting reform passed by citizen initiative in 2018. Plaintiffs argue that the summary statement accompanying the proposed amendment violates state law because it insufficiently and unfairly describes the constitutional changes that would take place should S.J.R. 38 be approved by voters. The plaintiffs have asked the court to block the use of the current summary statement. They have also asked the court to either order the General Assembly enact a new summary that complies with state law or order the use of the summary provided by plaintiffs.

Oral argument took place on August 7, 2020. On August 17, the Circuit Court of Cole County ruled in favor of the plaintiffs finding that the ballot summary was unfair, insufficient, and in violation of Missouri law. The court ordered that plaintiffs’ proposed revisions to the summary statement be adopted by the Secretary of State and appear on the ballot in November 2020.

On August 18, 2020, the defendants appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District. The appellants and respondents filed a joint motion to expedite the case, which the Court of Appeals granted. Oral argument took place on August 28, 2020. 

On August 31, 2020, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District affirmed in part and reversed in part the opinion of the Circuit Court of Cole County and certified a modified version of the ballot summary statement. The Court of Appeals rejected a request to rehear the case. The modified version of the ballot summary statement is set to appear on the Missouri ballot in the November 2020 elections.

Documents

Circuit Court of Cole County

Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District

Amicus Briefs in Support of the Defendants-Appellants

Amicus Briefs in Support of the Plaintiffs-Respondents