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Stiles v. Blunt

filed: August 24, 1990.

JOHN STILES, APPELLANT,
v.
ROY D. BLUNT, WILLIAM L. WEBSTER, APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri; Honorable Scott O. Wright, Judge.

COUNSEL

Roger G. Brown, Jefferson City, Missouri, for Appellant.

Deborah Ground Buckner, Jefferson City, Missouri, for Appellees.

McMillian, Circuit Judge, Henley, Senior Circuit Judge, and Bowman, Circuit Judge.

Author: Mcmillian

McMILLIAN, Circuit Judge.

John A. Stiles (appellant) appeals from a final order entered in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri*fn1 denying his motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent Roy Blunt, the Secretary of State of the State of Missouri, and William Webster, Attorney General of the State of Missouri (appellees), from refusing to certify him as a Democratic candidate in the August 1990 primary for the Missouri House of Representatives and dismissing his cause of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. For reversal, appellant argues that (1) the district court erred in reviewing the minimum age requirement for Missouri State Representative under the rational relationship standard of equal protection review; (2) that even assuming rational relationship review is appropriate, the district court erred in holding that the minimum age requirement is rationally related to legitimate state interests; and (3) the district court erred in refusing to calculate his age from the date of conception in accordance with Mo. Ann. Stat. § 1.205 (Vernon Supp. 1990) (Section 1.205), the preamble to the Missouri Senate Committee Substitute for House Bill 1596 (1986 Missouri Abortion Act), which states that life begins at conception. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the order of the district court.

I.

The facts of this case are undisputed. On January 9, 1990, appellant made a timely offer to file his declaration of candidacy for Missouri State Representative on the Democratic ballot. The Secretary of State acknowledged receipt of appellant's declaration of candidacy, but refused to certify him as a candidate because he would not be 24 years old on the date he would be sworn into office as required by Mo. Const. Art. III, § 4 (Vernon 1970) and Mo. Ann. Stat. § 21.080 (Vernon 1970 & Supp. 1990) (Section 21.080).

Appellant's date of birth is April 11, 1967, and his date of conception is prior to November 1, 1966. Appellant is a resident of Windsor, Missouri, in Henry County, and is a taxpayer and a registered and qualified voter of Windsor, which is located in the 119th Legislative District. Appellant is a member of the Democratic party, and except for his age, is otherwise qualified to hold the office of Missouri State Representative. If appellant won the election, he would be sworn in and begin serving his term on approximately November 1, 1990. Calculating appellant's age from his date of birth, he will be a little over 23 1/2 years old on November 1, 1990.

The parties stipulate that qualified voters in the 119th Legislative District, though not parties to this lawsuit, have indicated a willingness to vote for appellant if he ran for office. The district court also held that the Missouri House of Representatives seated persons under the age of 24 on four occasions between 1824 and 1935.*fn2

On February 12, 1990, appellant filed a Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief ("Petition") in federal district court, alleging that the minimum age requirement violated the equal protection clause because it deprived him of his right to run for public office and violated his fundamental rights of speech, association and travel. Appellant also contended that the minimum age requirement violated the fundamental rights of the voters interested in supporting him. In the alternative, appellant argued that his age should be calculated from the date of his conception rather than his date of birth, which, according to Section 1.205 is when life begins.

After holding an evidentiary hearing, the district court denied appellant's requests for declaratory and injunctive relief and dismissed his petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The district court held that the minimum age requirement did not violate appellant's constitutional rights or the fundamental rights of the voters of the 119th Legislative District to free speech, voting, and participation in government. The district court further held that appellant's age should be calculated from his date of birth, not from his date of conception pursuant to Section ...


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