A bartender at JC’s Sports Bar, a small, family-owned bar in Kansas City’s Northland backed by the Kansas City Business Rights Coalition (KCBRC), asked Missouri’s highest court this week to hear a challenge to Kansas City’s 2008 ordinance attempting to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants.
The bartender requested the Supreme Court of Missouri to transfer the case from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, in order to determine whether the City’s smoking ban conflicts with the Indoor Clean Air Act, Missouri’s 1992 law governing smoking indoors. The Act enables bars and billiard parlors like JC’s that post signs warning “Nonsmoking Areas are Unavailable” to operate lawfully without designating nonsmoking areas indoors. The City Prosecutor has agreed that JC’s is a “bar” and “billiard parlor” where those signs are posted.
Last January, the Circuit Court of Jackson County convicted the bartender of violating Kansas City’s smoking ban by allowing patrons to smoke inside JC’s. In June, the Court of Appeals affirmed the bartender’s conviction and held the smoking ban did not conflict with the Indoor Clean Air Act. If the Supreme Court transfers the case, the Court of Appeals’ decision would be void. The Supreme Court would hear the appeal anew, issuing its own opinion.
“In order to uphold the smoking ban, the Court of Appeals had to overrule controlling precedents,” said Jonathan Sternberg, the KCBRCs attorney. He represents the bartender. “It departed from 120 years of municipal-state relations law, ruling that Kansas City is now allowed to override exclusions from state laws. Previous Missouri Supreme Court decisions say otherwise. Since the Supreme Court is the final word on issues of Missouri law like this, it should be the court to decide whether the law should now be applied differently,” Sternberg said.
According to the Supreme Court’s website, https://www.courts.mo.gov, its next decision date is scheduled for Tuesday, September 1, at 1:00 p.m. Once the Supreme Court decides to hear such a case, the high court usually receives briefs, hears oral arguments and hands down a final judgment within six months.
The KCBRC is an alliance of more than 150 businesses throughout the Kansas City Metropolitan Area devoted to fostering free enterprise, especially in hard economic times like these. The KCBRC has fought unreasonable smoking bans in Missouri and Kansas since 2004.