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Government, Politics & Issues

Missouri Supreme Court finds against Rachel Johns' candidacy

Rachel Johns, a Democrat from St. Louis, is a candidate for the 76th Missouri House District.
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Updated 4:10 p.m. May 20 with verdict - The day after it heard arguments, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that struck a candidate for a Missouri House seat from the ballot.

Rachel Johns had alleged that the requirement that a candidate be a registered for two years before the election violated equal protection rights, and she said she was exercising her First Amendment right to protest by not registering earlier. A split court decided against her. Her attorney says he will ask for a rehearing and, barring that, will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

Original article, May 19 - The Missouri Supreme Court is considering a challenge to a statehouse candidate for a St. Louis area district. Incumbent Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis, is suing fellow Democrat Rachel Johns, claiming that she waited too long to register to vote in the 76th House District to be eligible to run for the seat.

She registered to vote in February 2015.

Last month, St. Louis Circuit Judge Julian Bush sided with Peters, ruling that Johns failed to meet the requirement of being a "qualified voter" for two years preceding the upcoming election.

"I personally do not know Ms. Johns," Peters said. "I've never seen her in my community (and) I have no knowledge of where she even comes from, but from the simple fact that she migrated here from Tennessee after the Michael Brown incident that she outlined in her court case."

Johns contends that she moved to Missouri early enough to meet the "qualified voter" requirement, even if she didn't register two years before the November 2016 general election. She appealed the lower court ruling to the state Supreme Court, which heard the case Thursday. Her attorney, David Roland, argued that the two-year requirement is unconstitutional.

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Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis

"The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently, for at least 50 years, struck down restrictions on citizens' access to the political process that violated the First and 14th Amendments," he said. "This is just one more in a long string of state election provisions that should be struck down."

Missouri's high court will rule on the case later.

If the lower court ruling stands, Roland says they'll likely appeal to the federal courts to allow Johns to continue to run for office until her case is resolved one way or another.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

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