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Legal Challenge to 2016 SB 638

The Missouri General Assembly regularly passes bills without regard to the limitations on the legislative power the People placed in their Constitution.

The first of what may be many citizen-driven lawsuits to stop the abuse was filed May 29, 2015.

The Anti Commandeering Doctrine

An analogy that explains the Supremacy Clause

 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Missouri Activist Sues Over Illegal Conduct by the General Assembly - Again

Jefferson City, MO, May 9, 2017 - A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Senate Bill 638, passed by the Missouri General Assembly in 2016, was filed in Cole County circuit court on May 9th.

The lawsuit claims that the General Assembly ignored the constitutional limits to their legislative authority. The Missouri Constitution includes clauses that prohibit legislators from changing the purpose of a bill or including multiple subjects in one bill.  The lawsuit claims lawmakers violated both provisions, and that it is illegal to make substantive changes to a bill's title.

The lawsuit is asking the court to strike down the entire bill.

The plaintiff in the challenge is Ron Calzone, a political activist and one of the founding directors of Missouri First, Inc., a think tank devoted to promoting constitutional governance. Although not an attorney, Calzone filed the suit “pro se” (Latin, “for oneself”), in part to demonstrate that the abuses by the General Assembly are so blatant that even a non-lawyer can succeed in legal challenges against some of their bills.

Calzone won a similar case in 2016.  He had challenged SB 672 (2014) on the same grounds as the case filed today.  A Cole County judge not only agreed with the lawsuit's claims about the unconstitutional procedures used to pass that bill, but the landmark decision also struck down the entire bill.  (Read about it here.)  Past court opinions on procedural challenges usually preserved the original part of the bill.

In spite of the Court's February 2016 admonition to legislators, they continued to pass bills in violation of the Missouri Constitution.  Senate Bill 638 was one of 21 such bills Missouri First tracked last year.  Calzone plans to challenge more of those 21 bills later this month.

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05/09/2017 - Lawsuit Filed

Case style: CALZONE v. Missouri General Assembly (See right sidebar for links to court documents.)

  • Plaitiff: Ron Calzone

 

 

List of defendants:

  1. ROBERT TODD RICHARDSON, Missouri House of Representatives Speaker
  2. RONALD F RICHARD, Missouri Senate President pro tem
  3. MIKE CIERPIOT, Missouri House of Representatives Majority Floor Leader
  4. MICHAEL L KEHOE, Missouri Senate Majority Floor Leader
  5. MARGIE VANDEVEN, Commissioner, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  6. JENNIFER TIDBALL, Acting Director of the Department of Social Services
  7. JOSHUA D. HAWLEY, Mo. Attorney General

 

Nature of Legal Action:

  • This action is for a declaratory judgment by the court that Senate Bill 672 is unconstitutional due to procedural infirmities and void, and an injunction to prevent the enforcement of any of its provisions.

 

What was SB 638's original purpose / subject?

  • "relating to civics education"

Initial Bill Title:

  • “AN ACT To repeal section 170.011, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof four new sections relating to civics education.”

What purpose / subject(s) did the bill evolve into?

  • "relating to elementary and secondary education"

Final Bill Title:

  • AN ACT To repeal sections 160.400, 160.403, 160.405, 160.410, 160.415, 160.417, 160.545, 161.216, 162.073, 162.261, 162.531, 162.541, 162.720, 163.031, 167.131, 167.241, 170.011, 170.310, 171.021, and 173.750, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof twenty-nine new sections relating to elementary and secondary education, with an effective date for a certain section.

 

Count 1:

  • The Purpose of SB 638 Was Changed By Amendments And the Purpose of the Finally Passed Version Was Not the Same as the Introduced Version in Violation of Missouri Constitution Article III Section 21

Count 2:

  • The Finally Passed Version of SB 638 Violates The Single Subject Rule in Missouri Constitution Article III Section 23

Count 3:

  • The Title for SB 638 Was Changed in Violation of Missouri Constitution Article III Section 21

 

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.”

From “Conceived In Liberty” -- Murray N. Rothbard

 


Case Timeline and Files:

05/09/2017: Case Filed
Petition to the Court, Including Exhibits

 


Article I, Section 1 explains who's in charge:

That all political power is vested in and derived from the people; that all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.


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:

The style of the laws of this state shall be: "Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, as follows." No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so amended in its passage through either house as to change its original purpose. Bills may originate in either house and may be amended or rejected by the other. Every bill shall be read by title on three different days in each house.


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:

No bill shall contain more than one subject which shall be clearly expressed in its title, except bills enacted under the third exception in section 37 of this article and general appropriation bills, which may embrace the various subjects and accounts for which moneys are appropriated.


Article III Section 40(30) disallows most "special laws":

The general assembly shall not pass any local or special law: … (30) where a general law can be made applicable, and whether a general law could have been made applicable is a judicial question to be judicially determined without regard to any legislative assertion on that subject..


 


 


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"Our citizens have wisely formed themselves into one nation as to others and several States as among themselves. To the united nation belong our external and mutual relations; to each State, severally, the care of our persons, our property, our reputation and religious freedom." -- Thomas Jefferson: To Rhode Island Assembly, 1801

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Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1787:
"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."




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