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Supreme Court upholds ‘Right to Farm’ ballot language

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Supreme Court of Missouri has held the election results on the 2014 “Right to Farm” amendment as valid, calling the ballot title “sufficient and fair, and so there was no election irregularity.”

SC94516, Wes Shoemyer, Darvin Bentlage and Richard Oswald v. Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, was argued February 25, 2015. The opinion on this and four other opinions were handed down today.

In an election irregularity proceeding, individuals challenge the summary statement of the title of a ballot issue that voters passed during the August 2014 election.

As in Dotson v. Kander, also decided today, the ballot title can be challenged post-election. The challenge was not considered untimely by the Court. The 30-day time limit for post-election challenges does not begin until the secretary of state certifies the results of an election following any recount.

Judge Laura Denvir Stith dissented the opinion, calling it untimely “because it was not brought prior to the election as mandated by chapter 116, RSMo, and because such a challenge may not be brought after the election under chapter 115, RSMo.”

Agricultural groups applauded the court’s opinion, calling the case “desperate.”

“We are pleased the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding the election results for Amendment #1, the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment, approved last August,” said Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst. “This was a desperate attempt by the opponents to thwart the will of a majority of Missouri voters by retrospectively claiming the ballot language was inadequate. As Missourians we now have in our state constitution a much needed protection for the right of consumers to have adequate and affordable food choices and the right of farmers and ranchers to produce that food safely and humanely.”

The Court’s decision is online at http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=87897.

The briefs, summary of the briefs and oral argument audio file are online at http://www.courts.mo.gov/SUP/index.nsf/fe8feff4659e0b7b8625699f0079eddf/2a7a6f05e839fc0d86257dab006f4387?OpenDocument