Case: Missouri NAACP v. Missouri

20-00169 | Missouri state trial court

Filed Date: April 17, 2020

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This putative class-action lawsuit was filed on April 17, 2020 in the state court of Missouri for the Circuit Court of Cole County by the Missouri NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Missouri, and three individual plaintiffs. Represented by lawyers from the ACLU Foundation of Missouri, ACLU National, and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, they brought this suit against the state of Missouri, the Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft, the Jackson County Prosecutor, the Kansas City Boa…

This putative class-action lawsuit was filed on April 17, 2020 in the state court of Missouri for the Circuit Court of Cole County by the Missouri NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Missouri, and three individual plaintiffs. Represented by lawyers from the ACLU Foundation of Missouri, ACLU National, and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, they brought this suit against the state of Missouri, the Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft, the Jackson County Prosecutor, the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners, the Jackson County Election Board, and the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of St. Louis. The complaint argued that Missouri law mandated the expansion of mail-in absentee voting for 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and prohibited the requirement of notary seals to vote absentee. The suit argued that Missouri statutory law already provided for plaintiffs to vote absentee without notary seals if they are reasonably afraid of contracting the virus. They also argued that mandating notary seals was a violation of the Missouri constitution's equal protection clause, that refusal to allow some but not others to vote absentee was a violation of the state constitution's equal protection clause, and that failure to guarantee absentee voting to all would violate the state constitution's equal protection clause insofar as different jurisdictions within the state said that fear of the virus was an acceptable excuse to vote absentee while others did not. The plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief, asking for clarification as to the Missouri statute that provided for absentee ballots.

On May 5, the defendants submitted a motion to dismiss. The Clearinghouse does not have access to that motion. However, thirteen days later the court granted the motion to dismiss on all counts. First, the court found that the plaintiffs' interpretation of the Missouri statute would allow any person who feared contracting any illness to cast an absentee ballot, which they were unwilling to grant. Second, the court dismissed the equal protection argument with respect to individual jurisdictions interpreting the statute because the plaintiffs did not allege that certain jurisdictions were in actuality interpreting this statute differently. The court dismissed the plaintiffs' third claim by simply holding that the Missouri constitution does not guarantee a right to vote absentee. In dismissing the plaintiffs' fourth claim, the court argued that, because there is no right to vote absentee, there must not be a right to vote absentee without a notary authorization. Finally, the court also denied class certification and found that the plaintiff organizations lacked standing.

The plaintiffs immediately appealed the decision to the Missouri Supreme Court. That court delivered its opinion unanimously on June 23. The Missouri Supreme Court found that the petition did in fact state claims upon which relief could be granted. The plaintiffs abandoned their second claim for relief, but on every other claim the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's opinion and remanded.

The case is ongoing as of August 12, 2020.

Summary Authors

Jack Hibbard (8/12/2020)

People


Judge(s)

Beetem, Jon E (Missouri)

Sauer, Dean John (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

DeLoach, Kayla (Missouri)

Hauss, Brian M. (New York)

Ho, Dale E. (New York)

Lakin, Sophia L. (New York)

Lieberman, Denise D. (Missouri)

Rothert, Anthony [Tony] E. (Missouri)

Steffan, Jessie (Missouri)

Wilcox, Gillian R. (Missouri)

Judge(s)

Beetem, Jon E (Missouri)

Sauer, Dean John (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

DeLoach, Kayla (Missouri)

Hauss, Brian M. (New York)

Ho, Dale E. (New York)

Lakin, Sophia L. (New York)

Lieberman, Denise D. (Missouri)

Rothert, Anthony [Tony] E. (Missouri)

Steffan, Jessie (Missouri)

Wilcox, Gillian R. (Missouri)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

20-00169

Docket

Missouri state supreme court

April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

Docket

20-00169

Order and Judgment

Missouri state supreme court

May 18, 2020

May 18, 2020

Order/Opinion

SC98536

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cole County

Missouri State Conference of NAACP v. State of Missouri

Missouri state supreme court

June 23, 2020

June 23, 2020

Order/Opinion

20-00169

Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Final Judgment

Missouri State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. State of Missouri

Sept. 24, 2020

Sept. 24, 2020

Order/Opinion

Class Action Petition for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

Missouri State Conference of the NAACP v. State of Missouri

Missouri state supreme court

None

None

Complaint

Resources

Docket

Last updated July 28, 2022, 3 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Missouri

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Post-WalMart decisions on class certification

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 17, 2020

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

NAACP Missouri, League of Women Voters Missouri, and three individual plaintiffs

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU National (all projects)

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Pending

Defendants

State of Missouri, State

Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft, State

Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners (Kansas City), City

Jackson County Election Board (Jackson), County

Board of Election Commissioners for the City of St. Louis (St. Louis), City

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Special Case Type(s):

Appellate Court is initial court

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

General:

Voting

Voting access

Voting:

Election administration

Voter qualifications