"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

The Affirmative Action Empire Strikes Back

August 20th, 2007 by mopns · No Comments

Hat tip: This commentary from today’s Wall Street Journal was sent to us from a reader.

By John Fund
Ward Connerly, the former University of California regent who is spearheading ballot initiatives in five states next year that would abolish racial preferences, has never seen anything like it. Knowing that voters in every state where Mr. Connerly has contested the issue have approved of his vision of a society where government policy is color-blind, Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon of Missouri has deliberately distorted the description of the initiative that will go on Missouri’s ballot.

Missouri law stipulates that ballot language be drawn up “in the form of a question using language neither intentionally argumentative nor likely to create prejudice either for or against the proposed measure.” Well, the initiative submitted by Mr. Connerly states clearly: “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.” When the measure was voted on in California, Washington State and Michigan, the language put before voters was very similar.

But in Missouri, Mr. Nixon, who is also a Democratic candidate for governor, has proposed the ballot summary read as follows. “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to: ban affirmative action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against; and improve opportunities for woman and minorities in public contracting, employment and education; and allow preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to meet federal program funds eligibility standards as well as preferential treatment for bona fide qualifications based on sex?”

Mr. Connerly calls the new language worthy of the “Mike Nifong award for dishonest behavior in the legal profession.” He says the Nixonian language “has been rewritten so that it sounds like the initiative would ban affirmative action programs preventing discrimination against minorities and women. But the original language makes it clear the initiative would prevent the state from discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of race, sex, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin.”

Mr. Nixon’s office dismisses allegations by Mr. Connerly that Mr. Nixon is trying to confuse voters and make it difficult to gather signatures to put the anti-quota measure on the ballot. His office says the new language was actually prepared by Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and Mr. Nixon’s office only served as an advisor in the matter.

Mr. Connerly isn’t buying that. He is planning to go to court to contest the Orwellian language. He notes that a lead attorney in a lawsuit filed against the initiative is Charles Hatfield, a former chief-of-staff for Mr. Nixon who now serves as treasurer of his gubernatorial campaign committee.

Related:

Dispute Over Missouri Ballot Language Headed to Court

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Tags: Affirmative Action · Decision '08 · Jay Nixon

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