By Jake Silverman
There should be no partisan bickering about the inexplicable nature of Amendment 1, or as the measure was so surreptitiously called, “Clean Missouri.”
If you are unaware of the Clean Missouri ballot wording, the three main issues pertain to placing redistricting power in the hands of the state auditor’s office, limiting campaign contributions to state legislative candidates, and requiring legislative records to be open to the public. The multitude of issues within the Clean Missouri amendment should be the cause of much concern for the people of Missouri.
In 1994, Hammerschmidt v. Boone County was heard by the Missouri Supreme Court. The case dealt with a similar drafting issue in which an amendment allowing for certain county governments to frame their own alternative government and county constitution was placed into H.C.S.H.B.s 551 and 552, a bill regarding the election system. The court ruled that this legislative action was unconstitutional. An initiative or bill that contains more than one issue is in violation of the Missouri Constitution Article III, Section 23 which states that, “No bill shall contain more than one subject which shall be clearly expressed in its title.”
The courts tend to define the “one subject” rule broadly, but not so broadly that “the phrase becomes meaningless,” as Judge Robertson states. So long as “the matter is germane, connected, and congruous” the law does not violate the single subject requirement.
However, the question still stands: are the issues within Amendment 1 pertaining to redistricting, campaign contributions, and the transparency of legislative records germane, connected, and congruous with one another? The answer is no!
While issues such as lowering campaign contributions, capping lobbyist gifts, and allowing for legislative records to be open to the public pertain to a broader issue of ethics in the political landscape, the issue of redistricting being put in the hands of the state auditor does not. While proponents and the attorneys arguing on behalf of Amendment 1 will most likely state that redistricting allows for fairer elections, that argument does not deal with the issue of ethics. The fact that our districts are predominantly Republican is not a testament to moral turpitude in the electoral process, but evidence that the will of the Missouri people is that of limited government, more financial freedom, and conservative values.
The fact that there are clearly unconnected issues inside the umbrella of Amendment 1 should lead to the only conclusion: Clean Missouri is dirty and unconstitutional.
The fact that a George Soros backed amendment that contains an electoral process issue was drafted into an amendment dealing with ethics is highly immoral and unethical in itself. If a voter was in favor of limiting campaign contributions or capping lobbyist gifts but was against the redistricting issue in the Amendment’s language, the desire of that voter was not met and was not intended to be met.
As stated in the controlling court case Missourians to Protect the Initiative Process v. Blunt, the reason two issues are not allowed to be in the same initiative is as follows: “The prohibition is intended to discourage placing voters [legislators] in the position of having to vote for some matter which they do not support in order to enact that which they earnestly support.”
Amendment 1, or as I like to call it “Dirty Missouri,” is and should be ruled unconstitutional. While I am sure Amendment 1 will continue to be argued in court, it is important for the people of Missouri to understand what they just voted on this November. They voted on a ballot initiative that was intended to dupe them. It is unconstitutional and downright wrong for Missouri. Further, the name is as fraudulent as well; a debate for another time.
Jake Silverman is the president of Olympus Political Consulting LLC. Silverman chose the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis to receive a donation on behalf of his writing.