The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative, the group leading a campaign to ban the use of affirmative-action preferences by public colleges and other state and local agencies there, has gone to court to challenge how Missouri's secretary of state, Robin Carnahan, wants the measure summarized on the ballot.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article giving the full back and forth between both sides. In a nutshell, the summary language for the ballot measure proposed by MoCRI says:
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?
As certified by Ms. Carnahan, a Democrat, this month, the summary language in the ballot petition's title says:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:One prominent higher-education lawyer privately notes that any college affirmative-action program "designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women and minorities" in higher education would run afoul of the limits the Supreme Court placed on such policies as far back as its landmark Bakke decision of 1978. The court specifically held in that ruling that colleges cannot use race-conscious admissions policies to remedy societal discrimination. For discrimination to be the justification, it must be discrimination that the college in question perpetrated. In both the Bakke decision and its Grutter v. Bollinger decision of 2003, the only justification for race-conscious admissions explicitly allowed by the Supreme Court was the desire to foster levels of racial and ethnic diversity that will provide educational benefits to all students. So, in essence, if the proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution bans what Ms. Carnahan says it bans, it bans what the Supreme Court says the U.S. Constitution already bans. Any Missouri college that has is operating a program like the ones she describes is vulnerable to lawsuit unless it has admitted to, or has been found guilty of, discrimination against minorities and women.
- Ban affirmative-action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women 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?
Postscript: If Carnahan's name sounds familiar, there is good reason for that. Her father, the late Mel Carnahan, was Missouri's governor from 1993 to 2000, and her mother served in the U.S. Senate. Her grandfather was a Congressman and U.S. ambassador appointed by JFK, and her brother, Russ, now holds a Congresssional seat.