The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative, the sponsor of an effort to eliminate race-based preferences in Missouri has won a legal challenge involving Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s summary language for the petition collection effort.Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan has ruled the Secretary was within her right to use the term “affirmative action,” even though the ballot proposal does not include that term. But he ruled the ballot language is insufficient and unfair because of a bullet point in the Secretary’s summary. It states the proposed amendment will: “allow preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to meet federal program funds eligibility standards…”Judge Callahan writes, “It is this second bullet point the Court finds troubling because it suggests that the proposed amendment is first going to do away with one class of preferential treatment programs, i.e. affirmative action programs, and then replace the affirmative action programs with some other kind of preferential treatment programs.” “The purpose and effect of the proposed amendment,” writes Callahan, “Is to ban certain preferential programs unless a particular program is necessary to qualify for federal funding.”

In a written statement, Secretary Carnahan stands by her wording. “We disagree with Judge Callahan’s ruling because the summary we prepared for this measure is fair and accurately reflects the underlying amendment,” she writes, “And we plan to appeal the judge’s decision.”

A challenge to the proposal’s fiscal note, a challenge launched by proponents of affirmative action, was rejected by Judge Callahan. “(The plaintiffs), writes Callahan, “Failed to prove that the Auditor’s fiscal note summary was insufficient or unfair.” -30-