Common Cause files amicus brief in support of Missouri nonpartisan reform amendment

Common Cause files amicus brief in support of Missouri nonpartisan reform amendment

KANSAS CITY, MO, September 18, 2018 — As a crucial part of Common Cause’s fight against partisan gerrymandering, Common Cause weighed in on Missouri’s fight to reform the legislature, including the redistricting process and limiting gifts from lobbyists. Common Cause and three Republican current and former state senators filed an amicus brief in the Western District Court of Appeals of Missouri in support of Amendment 1, the Clean Missouri-supported constitutional amendment to make government more responsive to the people. The brief argues that Amendment 1 contains commonsense and nonpartisan good government reforms that the people of Missouri should have the opportunity to vote on in November.

From the brief:

“The will of the voters should determine who legislates and what influences legislative decisions.  The Clean Missouri initiative seeks to enact this fundamental principle through a reform of the Missouri state legislature to ensure that the democratic process and their votes are unfettered by improper influences.  The voters of Missouri rather than the courts should decide the fate of this important initiative.”

[. . . ]

“There is also tremendous momentum for reform at the state level.  As voters become more attuned to the problem of gerrymandering, they are more likely to demand solutions. . . Voters all over the country are waking up to the issue of partisan gerrymandering and demanding change.  The Clean Missouri ballot initiative offers Missouri voters that opportunity.  They should not be denied that right.”

Amendment 1 includes five reforms designed to reform the legislature and make Missouri government more responsive and accountable to the people. These include:

  • Requiring that legislative records be open to the public by ensuring that the legislature operate under the same open records law as other public entities in Missouri.
  • Requiring politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists after the conclusion of their final legislative session.
  • Eliminating almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly by banning any single gift worth more than $5.
  • Lowering campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates to limit the influence of big money and lobbyists in state government.
  • Ensuring that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a redistricting commission.
    • Add fairness and competitiveness as required criteria for new district maps
    • Protect the political power of minority communities against vote dilution
    • Ask an independent state demographer to lead on technical work in creating district maps, instead of entrusting political appointees to do all of that work

Common Cause was joined in the brief by Missouri State Senator Rob Schaaf (R); Former Missouri State Senator Jim Lembke (R); and Former Missouri State Senator Bob Johnson (R).  The amici are represented by Gregory L. Diskant, Aron Fischer, and Esther Y. Kim of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP along with Missouri attorney Brett A. Emison of Langdon & Emison, Attorneys at Law.

To read the amicus brief, click here.