(The Center Square) – Republican Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft remains convinced his text for abortion rights initiative petitions was legal after the state Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.
Early Monday evening, the state’s highest court declined to hear Ashcroft’s appeal from the Missouri Court of Appeals in the Western District. The court also declined a lawsuit led by two Republican legislators suing the state about the cost of the initiatives, letting stand another ruling by the Court of Appeals.
“We stand by our language—it fairly and accurately reflects the scope and magnitude of each petition,” Ashcroft, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in 2024, said in a statement. “My responsibility as Secretary of State is to make sure the people of Missouri have ballot language that they can understand and trust. If these petitions make it to the ballot, the people will decide. I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure Missourians know the truth.”
Missourians for Constitutional Freedom filed 11 petitions to change the state’s abortion regulations, which became law the day the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Six of the ballot initiatives were contested by Ashcroft.
Chuck Hatfield, an attorney who served in Democrat administrations in Jefferson City, predicted in a post on social media the court would deny Ashcroft’s request.
“The Court of Appeals opinion is well reasoned and written by a conservative judge,” Hatfield wrote. “Neither Judge [Jon] Beetem nor Judge [Thomas] Chapman are activist judges. And they agreed that Ashcroft was unfair.”
Judge Beetem was critical of Ashcroft’s language in the rewritten petitions.
“The Secretary’s summary statements are replete with politically partisan language,” Beetem wrote in the October decision. “After removal of the inaccurate and partisan language of the Secretary’s summary statements, the circuit court was left with largely unworkable summary statements. The circuit court was authorized to write alternative language to fulfill its responsibility that a fair and sufficient summary statement be certified.”
Monday’s ruling ended months of legal challenges by Republicans regarding the petitions, which must be signed by approximately 170,000 Missourians, verified and placed on ballots for voters in next November’s general election.
In July, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected arguments by Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey stating the fiscal notes for the 11 petitions were underestimated and it would cost the state millions if the initiative was placed on the ballot and approved by voters.