The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

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The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Victory on Equal Opportunity in Missouri

February 26, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Civil rights advocates in Missouri have successfully kept a proposed ballot initiative that would have amended the state's constitution to eliminate equal opportunity programs in higher education, employment, and contracting off the 2010 ballot.

Political operatives in Missouri affiliated with equal opportunity opponent Ward Connerly filed to withdraw the proposed initiative earlier this week rather than face an ACLU lawsuit challenging the language of the initiative. 

"The state of Missouri has a constitutional obligation to ensure that no one is denied opportunity because of unfair and unjust discrimination," said Stephen Douglas Bonney, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri. "America is the land of equal opportunity and these proposed initiatives flew in the face of some of our most cherished ideals."

Missouri has been a focus of Ward Connerly and his allies, who have been attempting to qualify similar initiatives all over the country for more than a decade.  However, this is the second time in the last two elections that they have failed to qualify their anti-equal opportunity initiative for the ballot in Missouri.

In 2008, Missouri was one of five states in which Connerly and equal opportunity opponents introduced ballot initiatives. However, these efforts were unsuccessful in Missouri, Arizona and Oklahoma, due largely to well-coordinated campaigns by local civil rights advocates that successful exposed inconsistencies in the content of the initiative, as well as fraudulent behavior, which prevented Connerly's allies from gathering enough local support.

In the other two states, Colorado and Nebraska, the initiatives made it onto the ballot.  Nebraska, became the fourth state, with California, Washington and Michigan, to pass an anti-equal opportunity ballot initiative.

In Colorado, voters rejected the initiative – the first time voters in any state have rejected a Connerly anti-equal opportunity initiative.


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