Dedicated to the
Legal Challenge to 2014 SB 672
The Missouri General Assembly regularly passes bills without regard to the limitations on the legislative power the People placed in their Constitution.
March 22, 2016 – Success! The Attorney General's Office Throws in the Towel
The circuit court decision became final and the 10 day window for appeal has elapsed. The case is over.
Although there will be no precedent setting appeals opinion, a precedent of sorts has, nonetheless, been set.
One of the prime objectives of this lawsuit was to put an end, or at least strike a blow, to what's called "judicial severance." That's a troubling practice in which the courts allow the original portion of a bill to survive even though they found that the addition of amendments to that bill violated the constitutional prohibitions on changing its original purpose or adding multiple subjects.
There are two reasons the practice judicial severance is so troubling:
In both cases, the principles of representative government and separation of powers are greatly harmed.
THE BLOW TO JUDICIAL SEVERANCE
In his opinion, Judge Green dusted off what is very much appellate level precedent from the 1994 Hammerschmidt v. Boone County and 2013 Missouri Roundtable For Life v. State of Missouri cases. He wrote:
"If the Court is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, then the bill as a whole was passed in violation of the constitution and the challenged provisions cannot be severed.
In the instant cause, it is not even a close call, the four corners of the bill, the legislative history and the credible unrebutted testimony of all witnesses provide no doubt that the bill as a whole was passed in violation of the constitution."
The message is loud and clear to Missouri bill sponsors -- guard your bill against unconstitutional changes, or risk losing the entire bill!
MORE LAWSUITS TO COME
The statute of limitations for challenging most bills is up to the last day of the legislative session after the bill's enactment date, but some bills can be challenged with no such limits -- especially when the legal challenge is part of a criminal defense.
More cases like Calzone v. Koster are expected in the near future by other pro se plaintiffs. Unfortunately, the fields are ripe for harvest.
February 17, 2016 –Cole County judge rules SB 672 unconstitutional
The Court grants Plaintiff's Petition and:
1. Declares that SB 672 violates article II, § 23, of the Missouri Constitution, cannot be severed under the facts of this case, and therefore SB 672 is unconstitutional in its entirety;
2. Permanently enjoins Defendants, and each of them, and all those in active concert or participation with them, from taking any action, including but not limited to the use of public funds, to implement or otherwise effectuate any provisions of SB 672;
3. Orders Defendants, and each of them, to rescind all actions taken to implement or otherwise effectuate any provisions of SB 672; and
4. Each party to bear their own costs..
August 24, 2015 UPDATE– Cole County Courthouse
The second hearing before a judge in Calzone v. Koster produced the expected results. Judge Green denied the state's motion to dismiss and granted "standing" to the Plaintiff. That means we can continue with the constitutional challenge to SB 672.
The next status hearing is set for September 28, 2015.
Stay tuned for more developments, and read the briefs in the green right sidebar.
July 27, 2015 UPDATE– Cole County Courthouse
The first hearing before a judge in Calzone v. Koster was held today. The issue was the Attorney General's Motion to Dismiss based on the state's claim of lack of standing.
Establishing standing is the first step in any civil lawsuit and often foils the whole effort. Although today's hearing will be continued, the judge made it clear that he would grant standing.
We win the first round and this is a very significant victory!
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. This lawsuit has the potential to have much broader implications than just striking down one bill. It may result in the expansion of the concept of “citizen standing”, making procedural challenges to unconstitutional bills easier in the future. It also has the potential to prevent the General Assembly from changing a bill's title after it has been filed. Additionally, it could tighten up the passing of “special laws” which unconstitutionally target an area or group for special treatment.
Most of the really bad bills include one or more of the abuses addressed in this lawsuit, so it may be an important part of the fight for liberty in Missouri.
Stay tuned for more developments, and read the briefs in the green right sidebar.
05/29/2014 - Lawsuit Filed
Case style: 15AC-CC00247 - RONALD CALZONE V CHRIS KOSTER -- Judge Dan Green has been assigned to the case (See right sidebar for links to court documents.)
List of defendants:
Nature of Legal Action:
What was SB 672's original purpose / subject?
What subjects did the bill evolve to include?
Final Bill Title:
What is Mercantilism?
“Mercantilism, which reached its height in the Europe of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, was a system of statism which employed economic fallacy to build up a structure of imperial state power, as well as special subsidy and monopolistic privilege to individuals or groups favored by the state.”
Case Timeline and Files:
03/21/2016: Deadline for appeal. The state chose not to appeal. The case is over, with a complete victory.
02/17/2016: Final judgment of the court.
01/20/2016: Plaintiff files proposed judgment, including suggested findings of facts and conclusions of law.
01/12/2016: Trial held. Plaintiff calls four witnesses, including two former legislators and two citizen activists. Defense had no witnesses or evidence to present.
11/09/2015: Hearing held at which time the parties announced that they could not agree on stipulated facts.
10/27/2015: Court instructs parties to attempt to enter into a joint stipulation.
08/27/2015: State files answer to petition.
08/24/2015: Second hearing on Motion to Dismiss based on lack of standing held. Judge denies motion to dismiss and grants standing to sue. Next hearing set for September 28th.
07/27/2015: Hearing on Motion to Dismiss based on lack of standing held. Judge indicates that he will almost certainly grant standing for Plaintiff to sue. A.G. still has a chance to object. Next hearing set for August 24th.
07/22/2015: A.G. files Response to Plaintiff's Suggestions in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss.
07/22/2015: Plaintiff files Suggestions in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss
06/29/2015: A.G. files motion to dismiss based on lack of standing
First Set of Exhibits (8 megs)
See the constitutional clauses influencing this case, below.
Article I, Section 1 explains who's in charge:
Article I Section 2 explains the primary role of Missouri government:
“That all constitutional government is intended to promote the general welfare of the people; that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry; that all persons are created equal and are entitled to equal rights and opportunity under the law; that to give security to these things is the principal office of government, and that when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.” (emphasis added) (MO Const. Art. I, Sec. 2)
Article III Section 21 stipulates that no bill can be changed from its original purpose:
Article III Section 23 stipulates that no bill can have more than one subject and that subject must be clearly identified by the bill's title:
Article III Section 40(30) disallows most "special laws":
How did legislators vote on SB 672?:
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