The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

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The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Missouri Court Rejects Anti-Equal Opportunity Initiative

July 8, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

A Missouri circuit court judge recently rejected a proposed ballot initiative, sponsored by Ward Connerly and his anti-equal opportunity supporters in the state, that would amend the state's constitution to outlaw the state's equal opportunity programs in higher education, employment, and contracting.  Circuit Judge Richard Callahan rejected the initiative because of a technical error in the submission, but also said that the language of the initiative was unclear and misleading to voters.

In December 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit charging that the anti-equal opportunity ballot initiative violates the Missouri Constitution by using vague language and seeking to trick and mislead the state's voters into supporting the initiative.

Ward Connerly, California businessman and millionaire, has previously attempted to enact similar ballot initiatives in various states, succeeding in California, Washington, Michigan and Nebraska.  This is Connerly's second attempt to qualify an anti-equal opportunity ballot initiative for the Missouri ballot.  His supporters failed to gather enough support through petition signatures to qualify his initiative for the ballot in 2008.

Allegations of committing voter fraud and misleading voters have followed him from state to state.  In fact, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued a report finding that Ward Connerly fraudulently obtained petition signatures for his Michigan initiative, which passed in 2006.  Signature collectors misled voters about the effects of the ballot proposal, targeting African-American communities where voters were told that by signing the petition to get the initiative on the ballot, they would be protecting affirmative action and equal opportunity.

The Missouri secretary of state plans to appeal the decision, even though Connerly and his supporters have submitted a revised version of the ballot initiative.

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