Court backs Missouri ban on using public funds for campaigns

February 15, 2022 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of a law banning the use of public funds for campaigning.

Several cities in 2019 sued to overturn the law against using public resources to support candidates or ballot measures. The cities argued the law unconstitutionally limited public officials’ free speech.

A lower court judge sided with cities, but Supreme Court judges ruled unanimously that while the law limits the use of public funding, it does not limit free speech.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court for further legal proceedings.

Judges in their ruling wrote that the law “does not limit or prohibit officials’ speech; it merely prohibits them from using public funds to facilitate or augment that speech.”

The Republican-led Legislature last year amended the law to ensure that it applies to schools. For example, it prohibits a school spokesperson in their official capacity from writing a press release in favor of a tax hike to raise money for schools.