JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Supreme Court ruled 7-0 in favor of Amendment 3, allowing the measure to remain on the ballot, in a decision released Tuesday afternoon.

The court’s decision effectively ends legal jockeying before the November election over an initiative petition that has spent a lot of time in the courts.

An appeals court rewrote the petition’s official ballot title and language after the deadline for signatures to be turned in had passed. Secretary of State Jason Kander certified the petition for the ballot anyway.

Last month a Cole County judge ruled Kander was able to do so because the ballot title had changed after signatures were turned in. The Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday affirms that judge’s decision.

Writing the opinion, Judge Paul C. Wilson said that there was no statutory requirement for Kander not to certify the ballot signatures.

“In the absence of such a clear and unequivocal requirement, the Court has no occasion to consider whether the effect of such a requirement on Proponents – who bear no fault for the flaw in the January 5 official ballot title identified by the court of appeals on July 15 – unconstitutionally burdens Proponents’ right to seek to amend the Missouri Constitution using the initiative petition 12 process specifically reserved to the people of this state in article III, section 49, of the Missouri Constitution,” he wrote.

The court also rejected arguments by the petition’s opponents that the petition should be rejected because it amended more than one section of the constitution and that it appropriated by initiative.

The court also left open the possibility, as did lower courts, that the amendment could be challenged after the election if is approved by voters based on the substance of the measure.

Reaction from the involved parties:

Raise Your Hand for Kids spokesperson and attorney Jane Dueker:

We are extremely pleased by the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision to affirm the will of the more than 200,000 Missourians who signed petitions supporting “Yes on 3 for Kids.” Voters know that we must start investing in Missouri kids by expanding early childhood education, and Amendment 3 provides an unprecedented opportunity to do just that. Missouri has failed to invest in early childhood education for far too long.

Once again, opponents of Amendment 3 were defeated in the courtroom, as the state’s highest court chose to uphold the constitutional rights of citizen-proponents. Now is the time to stop these frivolous lawsuits. Now is the time for politicians to stop putting special interests above kids, and to recognize that Amendment 3 is the onlyplan that will expand early childhood education in our state. The people of Missouri overwhelmingly believe they should be able to vote on this critical amendment, and their right should not and now will not be denied by these companies and special interests.

Missouri lags our neighboring states, and most of the country, in providing access to state-funded early childhood education. In 2014 only 3% of our 4-year olds were enrolled in these programs, compared to 76%in Oklahoma and 60% in Iowa. That is unacceptable. Amendment #3 is the right way to close this gap. With the amendment written into the Missouri constitution, it will ensure that all the money it raises will go directly to early childhood education and healthcare, and that Jefferson City politicians will not be able to get their hands on these funds or divert them to other programs. It is the best and only proposal on the table to expand early childhood education and ensure that we make Missouri stronger.

For these reasons, and many others, Amendment 3 is supported by a broad coalition of respected groups from all areas of the state, including the Missouri School Boards’ Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Missouri State NAACP, the Missouri Retailers’ Association, Child Care Aware of Missouri, Nurses for Newborns, the Maternal, Child & Family Health Coalition, the Missouri Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, SSM Health Care and many others; the Amendment also has strong support from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

The people of Missouri overwhelmingly believe they should be able to vote on this critical amendment, and that right was ensured today by the Missouri Supreme Court. We thank the Court for its ruling, and we look forward to the passage of Amendment 3 this November and to a brighter future for all Missouri kids and communities.

MPCA executive director Ron Leone:

Big Tobacco disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters when they circulated an outrageous and unfair 747% tax increase ballot scheme that the Court of Appeals ruled was “unfair and insufficient.
While we are disappointed the Missouri Supreme Court did not strike Big Tobacco’s Amendment 3 from the ballot, we are confident the people will see through Big Tobacco’s scam to place many troubling provisions in Missouri’s Constitution and vote no on November 8th.
We Deserve Better:

We are now concentrating on the November election and getting the facts to Missouri voters about how Big Tobacco is using our kids and our Constitution for its personal corporate interests. Big Tobacco crafted Amendment 3 for the sole purpose of increasing its profit margins through a slick tax scheme.

Missouri voters deserve to know that North Carolina-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is working to cement into the bedrock of Missouri’s Constitution dangerous changes that could irreparably harm public education, health and medical research in our state.

Amendment 3 is not about kids, as supporters claim. Big Tobacco has spent $3.5 million and counting to fully fund the Raise Your Hand for Kids campaign because market analysis shows its return on investment will be as much as $500 million every single year in increased cigarette profits unless voters defeat Amendment 3.

That’s not all Big Tobacco has slipped into the fine print of Amendment 3. It also handcuffs public safety by restricting funding for the enforcement of tobacco laws; and, it bans funding of research on the harmful effects of tobacco smoke, including its impact on young children.

Amendment 3 also dilutes Missouri’s strict, century-old constitutional ban on taxpayer dollars being diverted from public K-12 schools and sent to religious and private schools.

This flawed measure’s anti-science language creates a dangerous legal conflict with our Constitution’s unambiguous protection for lifesaving cures and medical research.

Amendment 3 is such a terrible idea that it’s opposed by a diverse number of organizations, including some with conflicting interests. Opponents include: American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Missouri, BioSTL, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Concerned Women for America of Missouri, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Missouri Alliance for Freedom, Missouri Family Network, Missouri Biotechnology Association, Missouri Association of Rural Education, Missouri Cures, Missouri National Education Association, Missouri Retired Teachers Association, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Tobacco-Free Missouri, United for Missouri, Washington University in St. Louis and We Deserve Better.

Secretary of State Jason Kander:

I am pleased that the Court agreed with our decision. The intent of the law is clearly not to disenfranchise the registered Missouri voters who legally signed this petition. This initiative petition will remain on the ballot so Missourians can have the opportunity to vote on its merits. My office will continue working every day to ensure fairness and integrity in our elections.