Eighth Circuit Ruling Signals Win for Missouri Political CommitteesWednesday, August 3, 2016
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Ruling forces lower court to review constitutionality of registration requirement
ST. LOUIS—On Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed a federal district court’s determination that a Missouri campaign finance statute was not ripe for review. The ruling in Missourians for Fiscal Accountability v. Klahr, 15- 04287 (July 29, 2016) clears the way for plaintiff Missourians for Fiscal for Accountability (“MFA”) to challenge the constitutionality of a statute requiring groups to “form” a political committee no later than thirty days before an election if they wish to speak in support of a candidate or ballot measure.
The plaintiff, MFA, was organized with the Internal Revenue Service in October 2014; however, because the group was “formed” within thirty days of Missouri’s general election, MFA was forced to censor itself despite the fact it had plenty of time to raise funds and speak prior to that election. The district court granted MFA’s request for a temporary restraining order, holding that Missouri’s “blackout period does not appear defensible as a means of promoting the State’s interest in informing the voters.” Following the election, however, the district court dismissed MFA’s case as not ripe for review.
On appeal to the Eighth Circuit, MFA successfully distinguished National Right to Life Action Committee, 323 F.3d 684 (8th Cir. 2003), a previous Eighth Circuit opinion that the district court improperly relied upon to deny MFA standing. With the Eighth Circuit’s opinion in place, MFA is now able to demonstrate to the district court how the Missouri statute infringes upon political speech and associational rights.
Missourians for Fiscal Accountability is represented by attorneys Chris Gober and Stephen Hoersting of The Gober Group, as well as Caleb Jones of Columbia, MO. A copy of the Eighth Circuit’s opinion can be viewed here.
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