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High court declines Kansas City apartment referral business’s appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of a Kansas City apartment referral business that said its First Amendment rights were restricted.

The Missouri Real Estate Commission argued that Kansas City Premier Apartments needs a real estate license to perform some of its activities.

In its First Amendment argument to state’s Supreme Court, KCPA claimed the state was restricting the business from sharing knowledge of real estate and limiting a renter’s ability to receive the knowledge.

The Missouri Supreme Court in July upheld the Platte County ruling, but two Missouri Supreme Court judges, in a dissenting opinion, likened the state’s licensing provisions to “merchants’ guilds of medieval times” that serve to decrease competition.

In its petition for writ of certiorari filed with the nation’s highest court, KCPA argued the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court precedents that require government to bear the burden of justifying its restrictions of First Amendment-protected speech.

KCPA’s website connected rental property owners with hopeful tenants. Property owners paid KCPA for each new tenant who verified he or she was referred by the website. KCPA offered a $100 gift card to each prospect that resulted in a payment to the Kansas City business.

In an order issued Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court opted not to hear the case.

“We’re very disappointed,” said KCPA’s lawyer in St. Louis, Dave Roland.

He said he’s still hopeful the state’s legislature will clarify a statute for exchanging truthful and harmless information on rental properties.

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