A State Supreme Court ruling re-instating campaign contribution limits could force campaigns to refund thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that a 2006 law lifting the limits was unconstitutional due to a technicality in the appeal of a lower court ruling. It left open whether the ruling should be enforced retroactively. Now, the court has decided that refunds would be in order unless a candidate can convince the Missouri Ethics Commission that to do so would create a hardship and the Ethics Commission determines that no advantage is gained by allowing the candidate to keep the money.

Attorney Jane Dueker helped argue the case before the Supreme Court and says she reads in the opinion a very strong inclination toward refunds.

This decision could have a huge impact on next year’s race for governor. Governor Blunt, a Republican, has a commanding cash advantage over the leading Democrat, Attorney General Jay Nixon. Blunt raised $1.7 million during the period in question while Nixon raised a bit over a million. Both likely will have to make refunds.

John Hancock with the Blunt campaign has little to say about what impact the ruling might have. He says the campaign’s attorneys are reviewing the latest hand down. Hancock expects to issue a statement soon.

The Supreme Court issued its clarification of the July 19 th ruling on a 4-2 vote. A dissenting opinion written by Judge Stephen Limbaugh calls the majority ruling unworkable and adds that the majority has presented the Ethics Commission a monumental task that likely exceeds its resource.

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (:75 MP3)