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Anti-affirmative action group sues Secretary of State

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By Adam Allington, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Backers of an anti-affirmative action measure in Missouri are suing Secretary of State Robin Carnahan over ballot language.

A group calling themselves the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative filed suit claiming that ballot language picked to describe the proposed constitutional amendment is slanted against the measure.

Specifically they object to following choice of words:

"Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

Ban affirmative action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women and minorities in public contracting, employment and education."

Tim Asher, Executive Director of the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative said that's a mischaracterization.

"John Kennedy's idea of affirmative action was creating equal opportunities for everyone, and certainly when some people are excluded that's not equal opportunity and that's what we are trying to create with this initiative."

Asher's group didn't want the term "affirmative action" on the ballot at all.

Instead, they simply want it to read:

"Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prohibit any form of discrimination as an act of the state by declaring:

The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting."

Carrie Bebemeyer, a spokeswoman for Carnahan, said the ballot language is neutral.

"Our office is confident that the language we wrote on the initiative is fair, impartial and complies with the law," she said.

The group needs 139,000 signatures to get the measure on a 2008 ballot.

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