Tagstate supreme court

Missouri Supreme Court issues one decision and hears arguments in four cases

The Missouri Supreme Court has made one decision, heard arguments in four cases, and has four more cases on the docket for May.

State of Missouri v. Joshua Steven Collins was argued on Dec. 8, 2021, and the opinion was issued on May 17. The circuit court’s decision was unanimously affirmed. The case summary can be found here.

The Court heard arguments in the following cases on May 11:

  • Bruce S. Schlafly v. Anne S. Cori
  • Carfax Inc. v. Director of Revenue
  • Robert March v. Treasurer of the State of Missouri – Custodian of the Second Injury Fund
  • Travis Poke v. Independence School District

In 2022, the Missouri Supreme Court has heard arguments in 29 cases and issued 26 decisions. The Court has eight cases on the docket for May. The final four hearings for the month will be held on May 24. 

Founded in 1820, the Missouri Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven justices. Justices are are appointed to 12-year terms by the governor from a list provided by the Missouri Appellete Judicial Comission. As of Sept. 2021, three judges were appointed by a Democratic governor and four by a Republican governor. 

The jurisdiction of the Missouri Supreme Court includes appeals concerning the validity of federal statutes and treaties in addition to state statues, state revenue laws, the right of a state elected official to hold office, and the imposition of the death penalty. The Missouri Supreme Court also has the discretion to hear appeals on questions of general interest and if a lower court’s decision is in conflict with a previous appellate decision. 



Kansas enacts legislative district boundaries after state supreme court approves them

Kansas enacted new legislative district boundaries on May 18 when the Kansas Supreme Court unanimously upheld the maps that Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed into law on April 15. As specified in the state constitution, the state supreme court had to approve or reject the new boundaries within 10 days of Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) filing them with the court. The maps will take effect for Kansas’ 2022 state legislative elections.

Both chambers of the legislature passed the redistricting legislation on March 30 after a joint House-Senate conference committee had developed it. The Kansas House of Representatives approved the legislative boundaries 83-40 and the state Senate approved them 29-11.

After Kelly signed the maps, Andrew Bahl and Rafael Garcia of the Topeka Capital-Journal wrote, “The state Senate and House maps were mildly contested in the Legislature, particularly in the Senate where the map will create a fourth, Democrat-leaning district in Topeka and Lawrence.”

As of May 19, 46 states have adopted legislative district maps for both chambers. The Ohio Supreme Court has overturned that state’s previously enacted maps, courts in two states have overturned a map for one chamber, and Montana has not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census. As of May 19, 2012, 46 states had enacted legislative redistricting plans after the 2010 census.

Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 1,807 of 1,973 state Senate seats (91.6%) and 5,214 of 5,413 state House seats (96.3%).

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Kansas Supreme Court overturns district court ruling, upholds state’s congressional district map

On May 18, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned a district court’s ruling that found that the state’s enacted congressional district boundaries were unconstitutional. In a two-page order, Justice Caleb Stegall wrote for the court, “A majority of the court holds that, on the record before us, plaintiffs have not prevailed on their claims that Substitute for Senate Bill 355 violates the Kansas Constitution.”

Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper had struck down Kansas’ enacted congressional map on April 25. Klapper’s ruling stated, “The Court has no difficulty finding, as a factual matter, that Ad Astra 2 is an intentional, effective pro-Republican gerrymander that systemically dilutes the votes of Democratic Kansans.” His opinion also said that the state’s new district boundaries “intentionally and effectively dilutes minority votes in violation of the Kansas Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.”

Kansas was apportioned four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it received after the 2010 census.

Kansas enacted congressional district boundaries on Feb. 9 when both the state House and Senate overrode Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of a redistricting plan that the legislature passed. The House of Representatives overrode Kelly’s veto 85-37, with all votes in favor by Republicans, and 36 Democrats and one Republican voting to sustain the veto. The Senate overrode Kelly’s veto 27-11 strictly along party lines on Feb. 8 with all votes in favor by Republicans and all votes opposed by Democrats.

Andrew Bahl of the Topeka Capital-Journal wrote in February 2022 that the “maps were hotly contested, largely for the decision to split Wyandotte County and put part of the Kansas City, Kan., area in the 2nd Congressional District, a move that endangers the state’s lone Democrat in Congress, U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, and, Democrats argue, unfairly divides minority communities.”

Stegall was first appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court by Gov. Sam Brownback (R) in 2014. He won a full six-year term in a retention election in 2016, receiving 71% support.

Klapper was first appointed to the Wyandotte County District Court by Gov. Sam Brownback (R) in 2013. He ran unopposed in both the Democratic primary and general elections in both 2014 and 2018.

The filing deadline for ballot-qualified parties in Kansas is June 1 and primaries are scheduled for Aug. 2.

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Missouri Supreme Court issues 10 decisions

The Missouri Supreme Court issued 10 decisions on April 26, 2022. This is the most decisions issued on a single day by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2022. 

Car Credit, Inc vs. Cathy L. Pitts was argued on March 22, 2022, and the circuit court’s decision was unanimously affirmed. 

State of Missouri vs. Eric G. Hollowell was argued on Feb. 7, 2022, and the circuit court’s decision was unanimously vacated and remanded.

John Doe vs. Kurt Frisz, Chief Law Enforcement Officer, St. Charles County, Missouri was argued on Feb. 23, 2022, and the circuit court’s decision was unanimously affirmed. 

City of St. Louis; St. Louis County; and Jackson County vs. State of Missouri; and Eric Schmitt, Attorney General of Missouri was argued on Feb. 7, 2022, and the circuit court’s decison was reversed and remanded with one justice dissenting. 

Christopher Klecka vs. Treasurer of Missouri as Custodian of the Second Injury Fund was ​​argued on Feb. 23, 2022, and the circuit court’s decision was affirmed with one justice dissenting. 

Clifton Jameson vs. Alexis Still was argued on Feb. 1, 2022, and the circuit court’s decision was unanimously vacated and remanded.

State of Missouri vs. Andrea Shaunte Straughter was argued on Dec. 14, 2021, and the circuit court’s decision was vacated and remanded with one justice dissenting.

State of Missouri vs. Timothy A. Shepherd was argued on Dec. 14, 2021, and the circuit court’s decision was vacated and remanded with two justices dissenting. 

City of Normandy, et al. vs. Michael L. Parson in his Official Capacity as Governor of Missouri, et al. was argued on Oct. 6, 2021, and the circuit court’s decision was unanimously vacated and remanded. 

Jefferson County 9-1-1 Dispatch vs. Joseph G. Plaggenberg, Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Revenue was argued on Sept. 15, 2021, and the appeal was dismissed with two justices dissenting. 

The Missouri Supreme Court has heard arguments in 25 cases in 2022 and issued 25 decisions. The Court has eight cases on the docket for May. Hearings will be held on May 11 and May 24. 

Founded in 1820, the Missouri Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven justices. Justices are are appointed to 12-year terms by the governor from a list provided by the Missouri Appellete Judicial Comission. As of Sept. 2021, three judges were appointed by a Democratic governor and four by a Republican governor. 

The jurisdiction of the Missouri Supreme Court includes appeals concerning the validity of federal statutes and treaties in addition to state statues, state revenue laws, the right of a state elected official to hold office, and the imposition of the death penalty. The Missouri Supreme Court also has the discretion to hear appeals on questions of general interest and if a lower court’s decision is in conflict with a previous appellate decision.



The Missouri Supreme Court issued two decisions

The Missouri Supreme Court has issued two decisions in April 2022 so far. 

State of Missouri vs. Shawn W. Yount was argued on Feb. 1, 2022, and the opinion was issued on April 5. In this case, the defendant appealed the decision of the circuit court that he was a dangerous offender, which increased the severity of his sentence. The Supreme Court ruled that the defendent’s case should be sent back to the circuit court for resetencing as it did not find that the defendent met the requirements to be considered a dangerous offender. It was a 6-1 decision written by Justice Robin Ransom with Justice George W. Draper III dissenting. 

All Star Awards & Ad Specialties, Inc. vs. HALO Branded Solutions, Inc. was argued on Dec. 8, 2021, and the opinion was issued on April 5, 2022. In this case, an employee from All Star began working for HALO (a direct competitor) simultaneously and providing client information to HALO. All Star fired the employee and sued HALO for tortious interference with a business and conspiracy to breach the duty of loyalty. A jury awarded All Star $5.5 million in punitive damages which the circuit court then reduced to $2.6 million after a motion from HALO. The Supreme Court of Missouri upheld the circuit court ruling in a 6-1 decision. The opion was written by Justice W. Brent Powell with Justice George W. Draper III dissenting. 

The Missouri Supreme Court has heard arguments in 17 cases so far in 2022. The Court does not have any cases on the docket for April.

Founded in 1820, the Missouri Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven justices. Justices are are appointed to 12-year terms by the governor from a list provided by the Missouri Appellete Judicial Comission. As of Sept. 2021, three judges were appointed by a Democratic governor and four by a Republican governor. 

The jurisdiction of the Missouri Supreme Court includes appeals concerning the validity of federal statutes and treaties in addition to state statues, state revenue laws, the right of a state elected official to hold office, and the imposition of the death penalty. The Missouri Supreme Court also has the discretion to hear appeals on questions of general interest and if a lower court’s decision is in conflict with a previous appellate decision. 



Patricia Guerrero joins California Supreme Court

Patricia Guerrero was sworn in to the California Supreme Court on March 28, 2022. Founded in 1849, the California Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. Of the seven current justices, five were appointed by Democratic governors and two by a Republican governor. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed Guerrero on Feb. 15, 2022, to a seat on the California Supreme Court to replace Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar. He resigned on Oct. 31, 2021, to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The Commission on Judicial Appointments confirmed Guerrero’s appointment on March 22, 2022, and she was sworn in on March 28. Prior to joining the court, Guerrero was a judge of the California Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One from 2017 to 2022.

The seven justices of the California Supreme Court are selected by gubernatorial appointment. The state bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominee Evaluation recommends candidates to the governor after examining their qualifications and fitness. If they wish to retain their seat for the remainder of the unexpired term, newly-appointed judges are required to participate in yes-no retention elections occurring at the time of the next gubernatorial race, which is held every four years. After the first election, subsequent retention elections are for full 12-year terms.

California is one of 46 states to fill supreme court vacancies via a form of gubernatorial appointment. Illinois fills vacancies via the state supreme court, while Louisiana uses the special election method. Virginia and South Carolina fill vacancies through legislative elections. 

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Ohio Supreme Court says it does not have jurisdiction to rule further on approved congressional map, new legal challenge filed

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in League of Women Voters of Ohio v. DeWine and Adams v. DeWine on March 18 saying it did not have jurisdiction to rule on further challenges to the congressional map at the center of those cases. Barring a successful legal challenge, the Ohio Redistricting Commission’s March 2 congressional plan will take effect for Ohio’s 2022 congressional elections and last for four years.

Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed the state’s initial congressional map into law on Nov. 20, 2021. However, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the map in a 4-3 decision in its League of Women Voters of Ohio and Adams decisions on Jan. 14, 2022. The court ordered the Ohio State Legislature to redraw the map.

A month later, State House Speaker Bob Cupp (R) announced the legislature would not vote on a map, instead passing map-making authority to the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission include Cupp, state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D), Gov. Mike DeWine (R), Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), State Auditor Keith Faber (R), State Senate President Matt Huffman (R), and state Rep. Allison Russo (D).

The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved a redrawn congressional map in a 5-2 vote on March 2, 2022. Since the approval was along party lines, the map is set to last for four years, rather than ten, per the 2018 state constitutional amendment establishing the commission.

Further action from the Ohio Supreme Court regarding the March 2 congressional plan is possible. In its March 18 ruling, the court said “nothing in this order shall be construed as precluding the filing of a new original action challenging the validity of the March 2, 2022 plan.”

The National Redistricting Action Fund, which filed the Adams lawsuit, filed a new lawsuit on March 21 against the redrawn congressional map. In the suit, the plaintiffs requested the court invalidate the March 2 congressional map, delay election-related deadlines and the congressional primary, and choose a new map or order the General Assembly to adopt a new congressional map.

Ohio’s congressional primary is currently scheduled for May 3 and early voting begins on April 4.

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court enacts new congressional map

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court selected a new congressional district map, officially enacting that map as part of the post-2020 redistricting process on Feb. 23. Pennsylvania was apportioned 17 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, one fewer than it received after the 2010 census. This map will take effect for Pennsylvania’s 2022 congressional elections.

Over a dozen maps were submitted to the supreme court, including by the state legislature. The court ultimately selected the Carter map in a 4-3 ruling, which a group of Pennsylvania citizens that were petitioners in a redistricting-related lawsuit submitted. Justices Max Baer (D), Christine Donohue (D), Kevin Dougherty (D), and David Wecht (D) ruled in the majority. Justices Debra Todd (D), Sallie Mundy (R), and Kevin Brobson (R) dissented.

The state supreme court took authority over the redistricting process after Gov. Tom Wolf (D) vetoed the legislature’s enacted map on Jan. 26. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to approve the vetoed map 110-91 on Jan. 12, and the Pennsylvania State Senate voted 29-20 to approve the map on Jan. 24. Following Wolf’s veto, the authority for determining a new map initially rested with a lower court, but in a Feb. 2 order, the supreme court ruled that it would have control over the process to select a new congressional map.

As of Feb. 23, 35 states have adopted congressional district maps, and one state has approved congressional district boundaries that have not yet taken effect. Federal or state courts have blocked previously adopted maps in two states, and six states have not yet adopted new congressional redistricting plans. As of Feb. 23 in 2012, 40 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

States have completed congressional redistricting for 347 of the 435 seats (79.8%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Michigan Supreme Court overturns distribution and paid circulator registration requirements for initiative petition drives

On Jan. 24, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled provisions of a 2018 law adding restrictions to the state’s initiative process unconstitutional.

The decision overturned two provisions of House Bill 6595 (HB6595):

  • a distribution requirement to allow no more than 15 percent of required signatures to come from a given congressional district and
  • a registration requirement for paid signature gatherers.

Justice Megan Cavanagh wrote, “It would run directly contrary to the clear intention that nothing more than a minimum number of signatures from the statewide population is necessary to propose changes to Michigan’s laws.”

The supreme court upheld a provision requiring paid circulators to identify that they are paid on petitions forms.

Background on HB 6595

In Dec. 2018, the state legislature passed and Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed HB 6595, which added restrictions to the state’s ballot initiative process. At the time, Michigan had a Republican Trifecta, with the legislature and governor’s office controlled by Republicans.

Michigan voters approved three initiatives on the Nov. 2018 ballot to

  • legalize marijuana;
  • create an independent redistricting commission; and
  • add voting policies, including straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting, as constitutional rights.

HB 6595 was written to require that no more than 15 percent of required signatures come from a given congressional district, which had the effect of requiring signatures to come from at least seven of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts. HB 6595 also required paid signature gatherers to register with the secretary of state and state on petition sheets that they were paid, among other provisions related to the initiative process.

On Jan. 22, 2019, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) asked Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) for a formal opinion on whether HB 6596 violated the Michigan Constitution’s initiative and referendum provisions. On May 22, 2019, Nessel released an opinion stating that certain provisions of HB 6595, including the distribution requirement, were unconstitutional. The opinion is binding on state officials unless it is overturned by a court ruling. In response to Nessel’s opinion, Rep. Jim Lower (R), who sponsored HB 6595, said, “I don’t think anybody’s surprised. I disagree with the conclusions she has come to, and I think it will be litigated.”

In June 2019, lawsuits were filed against Nessel’s formal opinion. The Republican-controlled state House and Senate filed litigation against Nessel. On Sept. 27, 2019, Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Michigan Court of Claims ruled in favor of Attorney General Nessel, deciding that the distribution requirement was unconstitutional. Plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

On January 27, 2020, the Michigan Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, decided that the state constitution’s signature requirements for citizen-initiated ballot measures are self-executing. The Michigan State Legislature, according to the court, cannot “impose additional obligations on a self-executing constitutional provision.” The Court of Appeals ruled that the distribution requirement was an “unreasonable restraint on the constitutional right of the people to initiate laws.” The House and Senate appealed the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court, which initially vacated the case on Dec. 29, 2020, based on standing, but it ruled on the provisions of HB 6595 in Jan. 2022.

Distribution requirements

A distribution requirement states that petitions for an initiative or veto referendum petition must be signed by voters from different political subdivisions in order for the ballot measure or candidate to qualify for the ballot.

In the 26 states that feature the powers of initiative, veto referendum, or both, 16 have laws imposing distribution requirements, while 10 of them, including Michigan, do not.

In seven states, the distribution requirement for statewide initiative petitions is spread out over a state’s counties (Arkansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wyoming). In five states, it is calculated based on state legislative districts (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Utah). In the other four states with a distribution requirement, it is based on U.S. congressional districts (Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, and Nevada). Michigan’s overturned distribution requirement law was also based on congressional districts. Washington, D.C., has a distribution requirement for citizen initiatives that is based on city wards.

Ballotpedia published an analysis comparing the difficulty of different state distribution requirements to meet. The analysis was based on two of the many factors determining the difficulty:

  • The percentage of jurisdictions from which signatures must be collected (i.e., from how much of the state must at least some signatures be collected) and
  • The size of the requirement in each required jurisdiction (i.e., how evenly must the signature gathering be spread out across the state).

Michigan’s overturned distribution requirement was near the middle when compared to the other 16 states with distribution requirement laws for initiatives and veto referendums. Seven states had requirements ranked easier based on the two factors, and nine states and D.C. had requirements ranked harder or roughly equal. Mississippi’s requirement, as interpreted by the Mississippi Supreme Court in a 2021 ruling, is mathematically impossible to meet with the states current four congressional districts.



Upcoming state supreme court vacancy in New Jersey

New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina is scheduled to retire from the court on Feb. 15 upon reaching the state’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years old. Fernandez-Vina’s replacement will be Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) third nominee to the seven-member supreme court. 

In New Jersey, state supreme court justices are selected through direct gubernatorial appointment. Justices are appointed directly by the governor without the use of a nominating commission. As of Jan. 4, there are five states that use this selection method. To read more about the gubernatorial appointment of judges, click here.

Justice Fernandez-Vina joined the court on Nov. 19, 2013, following an appointment by Gov. Chris Christie (R). Before serving on the state supreme court, Fernandez-Vina served as a legal associate and as a partner with private law firms.

He received a B.A. in history from Widener University in 1974 and a J.D. from Rutgers University in 1978. After law school, Fernandez-Vina clerked for New Jersey Superior Court Judge E. Stevenson Fluharty.

In 2022, there are four supreme court vacancies pending in three of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements.

Three of the vacancies—in Maryland and Wyoming—are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. One vacancy—in New Jersey—is in a state where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement.

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