Backers of an anti-affirmative action ballot initiative in Missouri praised a decision Monday to rewrite the summary language that will appear on the ballot if the measure qualifies for the November election. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan drafted the original summary language to specify the initiative’s intent to ban affirmative action programs for women and minorities in public contracting, employment, and education. This sparked a lawsuit by the initiative’s backers, whose own description of the initiative deliberately obscured its intent by leaving out any reference to affirmative action.
Carnahan’s original summary stated that the initiative would ban “affirmative action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women and minorities.” The judge’s rewrite says only that the initiative will ban “affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment…based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.”
“Affirmative action opponents see this rewrite as a victory because they know that the term ‘preferential treatment’ confuses voters, making them think of rigid quotas and nepotism, which have nothing to do with affirmative action programs,” said Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms. magazine. Carnahan has vowed to appeal the ruling, according to the Associated Press.
Ms.‘s winter issue features an explosive investigation of Ward Connerly, the driving force behind these initiatives, revealing the huge and possibly illegal compensation he receives from his nonprofits, the deceptive tactics used in his campaigns, and his extensive ties to the network of big government contractors that stand to benefit from the elimination of affirmative action. Connerly and his supporters are currently targeting five states (AZ, CO, MO, NE, OK) with anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives for the November election.