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Ritter v. Ashcroft

On August 2, 2018, a citizen in Missouri filed suit in Missouri state court to block a ballot proposal that would change the criteria for drawing Missouri’s state legislative maps.

Published: September 21, 2018

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

Case Background

On August 2, 2018, an individual voter filed a lawsuit under Missouri law challenging a ballot proposal that would change how the state’s legislative maps are drawn. The proposal—which is sponsored by Clean Missouri—is a constitutional amendment that would establish a nonpartisan state demographer responsible for drawing state legislative lines for state apportionment commissions. The proposal would also mandate the use of a new statistical model for redistricting. 

The plaintiff argues that the proposal, in violation of the state constitution, contains more than one subject, changes too many parts of the state constitution and offers changes “repugnant” to the U.S. Constitution, and in violation of state law, fails to set forth the full and correct text of the measure and list all of the constitutional provisions it would override. The plaintiff also argues that the proposal violates the First Amendment by banning members’ and candidates’ political fundraising on state property. 

The plaintiff asked the court to enjoin the secretary of state from certifying and printing the proposal for the 2018 ballot. On September 14, the Cole County Circuit Court struck the initiative from the ballot, citing the state constitution’s single-subject rule for constitutional amendments and the initiative’s proposed changes to more than one branch of government.

On September 21, the Court of Appeals for the Western District of Missouri reversed that decision, restoring the initiative to the ballot. 


Missouri Circuit Court

Missouri Court of Appeals

  • Order (September 21, 2018)