United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division
ORDER AND OPINION DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE
are Defendant Missouri Ethics Commission's
(“Commission”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
#35) and Plaintiff Missourians for Fiscal
Accountability's (“MFA”) Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. #37). For the following reasons, the
Commission's motion is denied, and MFA's motion is
a “political organization” within the meaning of
section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code. MFA was formed on
October 22, 2014, with the intent of collecting contributions
and expending money to advocate for Proposition 10, a
proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution voted upon
during the November 4, 2014 general election. MFA endeavored
to register as a “campaign committee” as required
by Missouri statute. However, Missouri statutes precluded MFA
from collecting or spending money to support Proposition 10
because MFA did not register as a campaign committee at least
thirty days before the election.
130.011 of the Missouri Revised Statutes defines a
“campaign committee” in terms that include
limitations on what a campaign committee is and can do. In
pertinent part, the statute provides:
a committee, other than a candidate committee, which shall be
formed by an individual or group of individuals to receive
contributions or make expenditures and whose sole purpose is
to support or oppose the qualification and passage of one or
more particular ballot measures in an election…shall
be formed no later than thirty days prior to the election for
which the committee receives contributions or makes
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 130.011(8) (2016). According to MFA,
this section creates a blackout period during which a
campaign committee cannot collect or expend funds, and this
blackout period places a ceiling on speech for thirty days
even if an organization is willing to comply with all
disclosure requirements. See Doc. #1.
October 30, 2014, MFA initiated this lawsuit alleging section
130.011(8) restricted its ability to collect and expend funds
to support Proposition 10 violates the First Amendment, and
sought an injunction to protect itself from the adverse
effects of violating section 130.011. Id. On October
31, 2014, MFA filed a motion for temporary restraining order.
Doc. #5. After conducting a telephonic hearing in which both
parties participated, the Court granted MFA's motion.
the election was held, the Court directed the parties to show
cause why the case should not be dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction because the dispute may have been rendered moot
by the election's occurrence. Doc. #11. The Court
concluded the matter was not moot, but the Court sought
additional briefing from the parties regarding whether a
final judgment should be entered based upon the rationale
expressed in the temporary restraining order. Doc. #20. On
April 27, 2015, the Court dismissed the matter without
prejudice, finding the claims were not ripe for adjudication.
Doc. #25. MFA appealed this Court's decision to the Court
of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Doc. #17. The Eighth
Circuit found MFA's claims were ripe and remanded the
case. Missourians for Fiscal Accountability v.
Klahr, 830 F.3d 789 (8th Cir. 2016).
parties have filed motions for summary judgment asking the
Court to determine whether section 130.011(8) violates the
First Amendment. These motions are fully briefed and now ripe
moving party is entitled to summary judgment on a claim only
if there is a showing that “there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled
to a judgment as a matter of law.” Williams v. City
of St. Louis, 783 F.2d 114, 115 (8th Cir. 1986).
“[W]hile the materiality determination rests on the
substantive law, it is the substantive law's
identification of which facts are critical and which facts
are irrelevant that governs.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Thus,
“[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Wierman v.
Casey's Gen. Stores, 638 F.3d 984, 993 (8th Cir.
2011) (quotation omitted). In applying this standard, the
Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party, giving that party the benefit of all
inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 588-89 (1986); Tyler v. Harper, 744
F.2d 653, 655 (8th Cir. 1984). However, a party opposing a
motion for summary judgment “may not rest upon the mere
allegations or denials of the…pleadings, but…by
affidavits or as otherwise provided in [Rule 56], must set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
First Amendment protects the right to participate in the
political process, which includes the right to make political
donations or spend money to express political views. See
McCutcheon v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 134 S.Ct. 1434,
1441 (2014). Speech about ballot initiatives, as is the case
here, is “quintessential political speech, which is at
the heart of the protections of the First Amendment.”
281 Care Committee v. Arneson, 638 F.3d 621, 635
(8th Cir. 2011) (citing Mills v. Alabama, 384 U.S.
214, 218 (1966)). The First Amendment's protections
extend to corporations and associations. Citizens United
v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 558 U.S. 310, 342-43 (2010)
(citations omitted). When the Government restricts speech, it
bears the burden of proving the constitutionality of the
restrictions. McCutcheon, 134 S.Ct. at 1452.
“Laws that burden political speech are ‘subject
to strict scrutiny, ' which requires the Government to