Contact: Scott Emanuel

Public Education Manager

(314) 652-3114 ext 23

ACLU Responds to Valley Park Mayor’s Election Claims

ST. LOUIS, April 6, 2008 -Valley Park Mayor Jeffrey Whittaker widely circulated campaign materials claiming that the ACLU backed his opponent for the upcoming April 8th election. Contrary to Whittaker’s claims, the ACLU is not involved in the electoral politics of the City of Valley Park or any other city in Missouri or anywhere in the United States. The ACLU is a non-partisan, public interest organization devoted exclusively to protecting the basic civil liberties of all Americans. Whittaker’s claim that we recruited or are involved in any way with his opponent is blatantly false.

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri’s current work in Valley Park involves lawsuits over the city’s anti-immigrant ordinances. Those ordinances override federal law and the exclusive federal power over immigration, violate business and property owners' due process rights under the constitution, and violate the equal protection rights of Valley Park residents and workers by fostering discrimination against anyone who looks or sounds foreign. Those cases are currently on appeal.

Brenda Jones

Executive Director

ACLU of Eastern Missouri

Backers of Anti-Affirmative Action Initiative Fail To Garner Enough Signatures To Qualify For November Ballot


APRIL 6, 2008

ST LOUIS – Missourians won a major victory in the fight for fairness and equal opportunity today when the so-called Missouri Civil Rights Initiative (MoCRI) failed to qualify for the November ballot.One of a series of ballot proposals California businessman Ward Connerly has spearheaded across the country, the MoCRI aimed to eliminate affirmative action programs that help to open doors to opportunity for countless people of color and women across the state.The defeat of the MoCRI affirms what recent polls have shown: that a strong majority of Americans – 70% according to The Pew Research Center – support affirmative action.

“Today’s victory shows that, when held up to public scrutiny, Connerly’s initiative can’t pass muster,” said Brenda Jones, Executive Director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.“The citizens of Missouri have a firm commitment to equality, and have demonstrated that commitment by refusing to fall for Connerly’s tricks.”

As the May 4 deadline to submit signatures loomed, Connerly and his allies engaged in questionable tactics, including tricking voters into signing their petitions, in a desperate attempt to collect the roughly 140,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.And when Secretary of State Robin Carnahan revised the MoCRI’s ballot language to make voters aware of its impact on affirmative action, Connerly and his allies sued her.

The ACLU filed an amicus brief in support of Secretary of State Carnahan and joined with WeCAN MO – a coalition of faith groups, community and labor organizations, students, and businesspeople – to educate voters about the true intent of the MoCRI.

“Trying to push through an initiative voters don’t understand is not true democracy,” said Brenda Jones. “When equal opportunity and the civil rights of our citizens are at stake, it is critically important that the electoral process be fair, transparent and honest.”

The defeat of the MoCRI comes on the heels of another Connerly defeat in Oklahoma, where he and his allies last month moved to withdraw their so-called Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative (OKCRI) after a group of concerned citizens, represented by the ACLU and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, filed a lawsuit challenging OKCRI’s fraudulent signature-gathering tactics.