Oral arguments were presented to the Kansas Supreme Court Wednesday in Topeka in a case in which the Newton VFW and American Legion are seeking an exemption from the city smoking ban.

The fraternal organizations originally filed suit against the city on its clean air ordinance on Dec. 20, 2007.

The Newton City Commission unanimously approved the clean air ordinance in November 2007, with the ban going into effect Jan. 1, 2008. The ban prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places, as well as 20 feet from a public entrance.

During arguments Wednesday, the attorney for the Whitesell-Finnel Post No. 971 Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Post No. 2, Orlin Wagner, did not argue against the constitutionality of the law itself, but that the two organizations should be exempt from the ordinance.

The law stipulates any business with employees or that serves the public are subject to the law.

Wagner argued because the two organizations are private clubs that are operated by members who are volunteers, the organizations are not subject to the law.

City attorney Bob Myers argued the two organizations have not been cited under the smoking ordinance and should not be given a blanket exemption.

Myers said the situation at the clubs could change.

“I argued against doing an exemption forever,” he said. “I took the position it is improper to rule in advance of a citation. They have nothing pending against them.”

The Supreme Court could take weeks or months before it rules on the case.

Myers said he thought it would be unlikely the Supreme Court would strike down the ordinance completely even if it ruled in favor of the VFW and American Legion.

He also said he did not think any ruling by the Supreme Court would have a larger affect on other smoking bans in the state or the possibility of a statewide smoking ban.

“I’m really not seeing that in this whittled-down, narrow case,” he said. “In the case, a number of constitutional arguments were ruled invalid and abandoned. All case law is in our favor, and the courts are upholding ordinances all over the country.”

Wagner did not return calls as of deadline.