PRESS RELEASE: Missouri Supreme Court Defies Voters, Effectively Nullifies Amendment 5

PRESS RELEASE: Missouri Supreme Court Defies Voters, Effectively Nullifies Amendment 5



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:    February 9, 2016

CONTACT:  Dave Roland

Missouri Supreme Court Defies Voters, Rules Amendment 5 “Worked No Substantial Change” in Missouri Constitution 

Mexico, Missouri—By a 5-2 margin, a majority of the Missouri Supreme Court’s judges have effectively nullified a state constitutional amendment approved by more than sixty percent of voters in 2014.  Amendment 5, as the measure was known, made major textual changes to Article I, section 23 of the Missouri Constitution and was designed to establish the most stringent constitutional protections possible for citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms.  But in a trio of opinions authored by Judge Laura Denvir Stith and handed down today that reject decades of rulings about how courts must interpret changes to legal provisions, the Missouri Supreme Court has concluded that the amendment “worked no substantial change in Article I, section 23.”

Judges Mary Russell, Paul Wilson, Zel Fischer, and Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge each joined the majority opinion.

“The words of the Missouri Constitution are the most essential, most fundamental tool the people have to define—and limit—the powers of their government,” said Dave Roland, director of litigation for the Freedom Center of Missouri, who argued one of the three cases before the Missouri Supreme Court.  “The people used the most powerful language available to them to demand protection for their rights to defend themselves using firearms; the majority opinion openly defies the people’s authority to protect this right or any other constitutional right.”

In a stinging dissent, Judge Richard Teitelman highlighted the flaws in the majority’s logic, saying, “The principal opinion asserts ‘context matters’ when courts apply strict scrutiny.  If context matters, then this Court should consider the fact that the list of nonviolent and impersonal regulatory offenses is a long one and it grows every year. … [The felon-in-possession statute] strips the delinquent taxpayer of his or her constitutional rights on the same terms as a murderer.  I fail to see how restricting the constitutional rights of those who bet on horse races or divulge the names and addresses of donors to a state-established trust fund is narrowly tailored to the prevention of gun violence.”

Judge George Draper joined Judge Teitelman’s dissent.

“These decisions put in jeopardy every single right that Missourians hold dear,” explained Jenifer Zeigler Roland, the Freedom Center’s executive director.  “The majority has today rejected the idea that our constitutions impose serious restrictions on governmental power and has announced that, no matter how clearly any individual right is stated in the Missouri Constitution, four judges who do not like that right can render it meaningless.”

The full impact of the majority’s rulings is revealed by what it means for Pierre Clay, the defendant in one of the three cases.  The only offense of which Clay has been convicted is possessing a weapon in his car for purposes of self-defense – which is, of course, the essence of the constitutional right at issue in this case.

“Mr. Clay is a hard-working husband and father who simply wants to keep his family safe,” Roland concluded. “It is heartbreaking and senseless that he now faces time in prison for no reason other than that he exercised his constitutional right to possess a firearm for defensive purposes.”

The Freedom Center of Missouri vows to continue working at all levels to protect and, where necessary, to restore Missourians’ individual liberties and their authority to act via constitutional amendment to restrict the powers of their government.

Additional information about the Freedom Center’s mission, cases, and activities can be found online at


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[NOTE:  To arrange interviews on this subject, journalists may call Dave Roland at (314) 604-6621.]

31 thoughts on “PRESS RELEASE: Missouri Supreme Court Defies Voters, Effectively Nullifies Amendment 5

  1. Let’s work duly hard to see these judges are replaced. They show bias instead of good judgement. They are to represent the will of the people of this state instead of their own selfish agendas. We can do without this style of treachery in the high courts!

    1. That is a fact, the Judges are gone..I’ll spend every dime I have to get these corrupted crooks out of the Courts..

    2. I agree. Publish openly the identities of these errant judges so that all may know them, oust them, and chastise them for the self important aristocrats they have become!

  2. I don’t know precisely how judges are replaced in Missouri, but I think it needs to be done.

    1. Kathy – Iowa had some issues with it’s Supreme Court Kings some years back…. the next year through ballot initiative – Supreme Court Judgeships began being limited, and each were required to run for re-election through the populace. Pretty damn amazing how in line with the public’s opinion they became. MO needs to take this up.

      1. Jeffery, I agree with you. Nothing will change in Missouri until we get these judges out that care nothing about our constitution only personal gain for themselves.

      2. Agreed, while we’re at it lets shorten that term to 4 years. Netter yet. A position such as this should not be one where a single politician can appoint a person to weild such political power. People with the power to change the constitution should be elected.

    1. I note that The Mo Supremes went along with the People’s choice many years back when the Ballot measure asked the Taxpayers to Okay a Word Change in the Mo. Constitution concerning the Forbidding of “Gambling”.
      They asked the Citizens to okay a change of the word “Gambling” ,to the word ” Gaming”. That was to NOW allow The Gambling Industry to settle in Missouri, & the State could Get their Take from the Gambling Companies.
      Funny that they suddenly don’t want to listen to the Citizens/Voters/ Taxpayers on this issue.
      They are Denying the Citizens their Unalienable Right by continuing to deny that Right by Placing a “Restriction” on the 2nd Amendment.
      These Judges should be Replaced ASAP.

  3. Power breeds contempt. Contempt breeds tyranny. You will have to mount a substantial effort to vote down retention for these folks. I support it, but it’s really tough. The closest thing to an oligarchy In this country is the Supreme court

  4. what i hate is the people vote for this and they change what the people want. just like RTW we voted against it but they are trying to shove it down our throats again.

    1. Not without allowing the people to vote on ANOTHER constitutional amendment – and even then, there’s the risk that the Court will just ignore it. Judge Stith – who wrote today’s majority opinions – stated in a concurring opinion last summer that the people could not adopt a constitutional amendment that would “impinge on the judicial province” or tell the court it could remove certain legislation from the court’s purview. That’s a frightening, radical position to take in a state that – at least ostensibly – makes the will of the people, expressed in their constitution, the supreme law.

      This really is a very, very concerning result precisely because it shows a willingness on most of the judges’ parts to simply reject the express intentions of the voters.

  5. Just so everyone is aware, Missouri Supreme Court judges are subject to a retention vote every twelve years. Below are the current ages of the judges and the year they will either face mandatory retirement or next be up for retention:

    Judge Laura Denvir Stith (author of the majority opinions) – 62 years old – October 30, 2023 (mandatory retirement)

    Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge – 62 years old – October 14, 2020 (retention election)

    Judge Mary Rhodes Russell – 57 years old – November 2018 (retention election)

    Judge Zel Fischer – 53 years old – November 2022 (retention election)

    Judge Paul Wilson – 54 years old – November 2026 (retention election)


    Judge Richard Teitelman (author of many pro-liberty dissents) – 68 years old – November 2016 (retention election)

    Judge George Draper (next-most pro-liberty judge) – 62 years old – August 5, 2023 (mandatory retirement)

    It is possible that Teitelman will retire later this year – his successor will be chosen either by Governor Nixon or by whoever wins this November’s gubernatorial election.

  6. Some learned person please edify me on the recourse of the people when the State Supreme Court “effectively nullifies” a constitutional amendment passed by over 60 percent of Missouri citizens.

    The answer CAN’T be that they are above the law or the will of the majority of state citizens in manners of law.

    I recently retired as a Naval Officer, and find this totally contrary to everything that I served 23 years to protect. We can wait the 12 years to vote them out, but what good does that do actually? The will of the people must be superior to any elected or appointed official. Yet when they ignore, out of personal political bias… lawfully passed dictates there MUST be a way to hold them accountable and force them to bend to the will of the people. What is it? PLEASE!

  7. Note to moderator: Please refer to the second post as it has a typo correction in it. Thanks.

    Suggestion: It would be nice to have an “Edit” function on the comment section. It is hard to catch typos on a smart phone, and contributors should strive to be grammatically correct and use proper spelling, IMHO.

  8. “shall not be infringed.” That’s really all that need be said, anything more is an unconstitutional law and should not be obeyed. Replacing these corrupt judges with new corrupt judges does nothing, think about it do you think that Pierre Clay will be released during the next election? Will these corrupt judges reinburst him for their immoral behavior and the cost to him and his family?

    I think public hangings would straighten up our legal system real fast.

  9. They are liars. If they truly believed this amendment to have “worked no substantial change” then they would have left it in the Constitution. What harm is a meaningless or redundant statute? They refuse to admit their bias.

    1. To be clear, the text is still in the Missouri Constitution – they didn’t remove it. The majority just said that they will apply the amended provision as if the amendment’s additions and deletions had no effect. That’s why I described the impact as “effectively” nullifying the amendment, rather than actually stripping it out of the constitution.

  10. For all of you complaining about the Supreme Court, you should know it will be forever a liberal court no matter who is Governor. The Missouri Plan ensures that. The lawyers pick the candidates for the Supreme Court and the Governor must pick from that list.
    A couple of years ago, the Legislature put on the ballot a constitutional amendment to change that and the voters of Missouri voted it down.
    So you get the Supreme Court that you deserve (not the one I deserve since I tried to convince people how bad the “nonpartisan” commission was.

    1. I most certainly voted against it Nina… for all the good it did. I have a thought (always dangerous). The justices come up for re-election, as well as other obscure posts and functionaries and the normal voter has no earthly idea how to vote. Does this sound familiar? “Should Justice I.M. Liberal be retained
      as a Missouri Supreme Court justice”\?” Hmmm… who the hell is THAT guy? Let me see, have I every heard anything about him/her?? Nope… let’s go with the name and see if I get a feel if I like them. “VOTE”. I have actually done this, better to vote than leave it blank… I think. Not so sure now. Point is, how do we get the names out there of justices that are liberal to the common voter? POPVOX is great, but don’t have time to check it out when you are filling in the blocks on your ballot. Just sayin’….

  11. Most Judges get voted in because people don’t know much about them when they go to vote. Try researching a Judge before you vote for one. I found that out 40 years ago when I got divorced. My lawyer said, hard to say how this will go because we got a Judge call “Crazy Frank”

  12. If in doubt vote all judges shall not be retained. We have some good ones in Cape county and a couple that should be in jail themselves. Personally they should all get only one term and no retirement.

  13. Can legislation be produced for the people to be able to vote for judges? If we can vote to keep them in or take them out, would that not be the logical step to take?

  14. First, let me confess that I got involved in a car theft situation trying to keep my brother out of jail 62 years ago. I’m presently 83 years old. Since then I’ve received three traffic tickets, No DWIs.
    Being a felon has screwed up a large part of my life, however, I’ve raised five off springs who are successful. Two have spent up to fourteen years in the military.
    I have been trying to obtain a pardon so I may own a hunting rifle or a shotgun. Four times I’ve been refused since 1980, so I gave up. It appears that those folks who investigate you for a pardon like to increase their numbers in the bureaucracy with lots of work to do but have nothing positive in return for the applicant. I’m truly disappointed that the peoples will is being ignored. I live with my wife of 60 years in the middle of 80 acres of woodland here in Missouri, in retirement. The best I have for defense is a sling shot and a butcher knife. There are people right around here that would truly try to take advantage of my wife and I if they knew we were weaponless.
    I was so certain that Governor Mc Carnahan was going to give me a pardon because he held my application for seven years. I had good indications from his office of his intent. But we all know what happened to the governor.
    Most of my working career was spent as an electronic engineer in California. I have held Top Secret clearances working on projects for the U.S. Navy with directions from the military in the pentagon. I was the engineer who found the reason why the Russians were nearly rubbing our war ships at sea while holding antennas outward as they passed by. It was a crypto assignment. That was in 1965-66. I worked with the Marquardt Corporation in Van Nuts Ca. with secret sonar investigations and liquid fueled rocket alignment test.
    None of my good stuff matters to the Missouri bureaucracy. I feel there is no point in my trying to obtain a pardon. I believe they do not like a success story from a felon. My record is a Non-violent felon. I sincerely doubt that I’ll be around when all this problem is straightened out but I do wish all you the best in your endeavors to get the job done.
    Obviously, you all know why I use my AKA name. Please excuse that but I feel it’s necessary. Thank you.

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