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Anti-Affirmative Action suit heard

Robin Carnahan. (state photo)
Robin Carnahan. (state photo)

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – An anti-Affirmative Action ballot initiative is at the center of a lawsuit heard today in Jefferson City.

The attorney for the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative argued that Secretary of State Robin Carnahan distorted the original intent of their ballot question.

It reads, in part, that it would "ban Affirmative Action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women and minorities."

Laura Egerdal is Communications Director for the Secretary of State's office.

"When that ballot summary language is written, it's written so that the people of Missouri can clearly understand the effect of what it is that they're voting on...and in this case, we're confident that our language will be found fair and sufficient by the court," Egerdal said.

The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative wants the language changed to read that it would, "ban state and local government affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment in public contracting, employment, or education based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin."

Meanwhile, the ACLU is also suing the Secretary of State's office, claiming that Carnahan's language isn't strong enough.

They were represented in Cole County Circuit Court by attorney Reginald Shuford.

"The very far-reaching effects of the initiative, were it to be successful, would touch upon such things, and perhaps make illegal, things like domestic violence shelters, data collection requirements," Shuford said.

Cole County Judge Richard Callahan will rule on the question at a later date.