Breaking news, URL to corroborate later: SCOMO finds with a unanimous 7-0 decision that state level absolute felon in possession laws are square with Amendment 5. As I knew they would.
Slay, Joyce and Dotson are happy today, but they’ll be sad tomorrow. Why? They just lost an excuse.
Skip the news URL, here’s the actual court opinion.
What is really interesting here is that the felon filed his lawsuit before Amendment 5 was passed, meaning he tried to use the pre Amendment 5 Constitutional language of Art 1 Sec 23 (Missouri’s “second amendment”) to strike down his felon in possession conviction (which led to a seven-year state prison bit, and I suspect that that was the result a plea deal between the felon’s defense attorney and the ACA). While this case was making its way up the judicial ladder in the state, Amendment 5 passed, and the felon’s lawyers tried to change the pitch halfway between the mound and the plate, because they thought Amendment 5’s stronger language would have meant a greater chance of success.
SCOMO found that: (1) The pre Amendment 5 language of A1S23 had to be used, that the plaintiff couldn’t change the pitch while it was on its way to the plate, but (2) It was a moot point anyway because either the pre or post Amendment 5 language of A1S23 compelled the judiciary to apply strict scrutiny when analyzing challenges to state and local gun restrictions. And even applying strict scrutiny, absolute felon in possession laws stay in place, they survive strict scrutiny.
Ironically, as the decision states, SLPD Chief Sam Dotson lent his name to another Amendment 5 lawsuit of earlier this year, trying to get Amendment 5 overturned because the ballot language didn’t tell the voters that gun restrictions would be faced with strict scrutiny in state courts. As I just wrote, they were faced with strict scrutiny in state courts even before Amendment 5, the amendment did not result in any actual change. Of course, as I wrote more than a year ago in this space before Amendment 5 was voter approved in August 2014, I was going to vote for it but I didn’t understand how anything would be changed by it legally-substantively, and now we have our first run through the state courts to prove that I was right.
Ironically, the state’s own felon in possession law was not absolute until 2007.