FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2008
Contact: Tim Asher Executive Director Missouri Civil Rights Initiative
“Statewide support for initiative prompts return in 2010”
(Grain Valley)—Today, the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative (MoCRI) announced it is concluding its petition gathering effort to end government race and gender preference policies in public employment, education and contracting. After collecting more than 170,000 signatures from Missouri voters in less than 4 months, the clock ran out on a MoCRI organization that had obtained overwhelming support from around the state.
While disappointed with the final outcome, MoCRI executive director Tim Asher is encouraged by the effort overall. “Today’s developments are certainly not what the many volunteers and supporters of the MoCRI had anticipated. It is particularly disheartening when you consider our elected officials played such a prominent role in derailing our effort,” stated Asher.
Asher’s comment is a reference to the six month legal challenge that delayed the commencement of signature gathering. While initiatives may enjoy more than a year to obtain the necessary signatures to qualify for the ballot, MoCRI’s time was consumed by a lengthy court proceeding to win a fair ballot title. The court battle was necessitated by ballot language submitted by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s office that misrepresented the intent of the proposed constitutional amendment. That ballot title summary was ultimately determined insufficient and biased by the circuit court of Cole County.
While satisfied with the court outcome, at the time of the decision only 113 days remained to make the ballot. But that was just one of many obstacles that stood in the way of the initiative making the November ballot.
“First, the Secretary of State quickly filed an appeal of the lower court’s ruling,” Asher recalls. “With the May 4th deadline looming, our only options were to abandon the effort, begin at once, or wait for the court of appeals to render a decision.” The campaign decided to move forward in anticipation that the judgment would be upheld. The Western District Court of Appeals has yet to review the case.
The next hurdle encountered was that of government officials and business owners who would not allow signature gatherers to petition on public property. This form of constitutionally protected free speech should not be curtailed, especially by public officials.
With the arrival of spring, signature collectors encountered harassment from mobs who sought to limit their first amendment right to engage in core political speech. Special interest groups including the ACLU, ACORN, Jobs for Justice, and the NAACP, together with union organizers and minority contractors, aggressively fought to preserve the many race-based programs that advantage them financially under our current system.
“They have a vested interest in maintaining the status-quo,” Asher said. “The system serves them well and they are putting those tax dollars to use by paying people to discourage the democratic process. We will soon release a video documentary detailing the effort of union bosses, elected officials and minority contractors to stymie the will of Missouri voters.”
Asher is encouraging the legislature to take a close look at these intimidation tactics. Other states have dealt with those who seek to rob others of their right to core political speech. There are a variety of issues that need to be addressed in order to protect the initiative process. Overall, it takes tremendous resources to see an initiative make it on the ballot. It should not be easy, but it also should not be impossible. With legislators currently seeking to burden the process further, the right of the people to participate in direct democracy in Missouri is in serious jeopardy.
In spite of the many hindrances, tens of thousands of Missourians—from all walks of life, political affiliation and religious persuasion—exercised their right to sign the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative.
“I owe a great debt of gratitude to the good people of Missouri for their overwhelming support of this initiative,” commented Asher. “And on behalf of all who seek an end to preferential treatment in our state, I want to thank Ward Connerly and the American Civil Rights Coalition for responding to our request for help. Their assistance was invaluable throughout the campaign and we anticipate their support and direction yet again in 2010.
In 2004, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative was held up in court and similarly delayed their effort until 2006. The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative expects similar success and will soon realize the same benefits Michigan has enjoyed since 2006; restoring fairness and equality in public employment, public education and public contracting.
The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative Committee (MoCRI), a Missouri-based ballot initiative committee, is dedicated to providing the people of Missouri the opportunity to end discrimination and preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin by state or local governments. MoCRI will make Missouri a place of equal opportunity for all, not a state that uses discrimination as a tool to create “diversity.” Achieving “diversity” should never be an excuse to discriminate!
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Paid for by the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative Committee
PO Box 545 Grain Valley, MO 64029 · www.missouricri.org
Missouri Civil Rights Initiative | 655 R.D. Mize Road | Grain Valley | MO | 64029