Lawyers recently went before the state Supreme Court to argue about the initiatives’ ballot titles, which are supposed to summarize in 20 or fewer words what a proposed constitutional amendment would do.Here’s the title for Initiative 42: “Should the state be required to provide for the support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools?”
The attorney general’s office originally wrote this title for 42-A: “Should the Legislature provide for the establishment and support of effective free public schools without judicial enforcement?”
An Oxford parent who supports the citizen-led initiative filed a lawsuit challenging the 42-A title, saying it was too similar to the title for 42 and people could become confused. In response to that suit, Hinds County Circuit Judge rewrote the title of 42-A to say: “Should the Legislature establish and support effective schools, but not provide a mechanism to enforce that right?”
Legislative leaders are asking the Supreme Court to restore the title that the attorney general wrote for 42-A. Their attorney, Michael Wallace, told justices that Kidd tore a “gaping hole” in the ballot title for Initiative 42-A by removing the words “free” and “public.”
“Because it’s not true and impartial, it needs to be fixed,” Wallace said.
The day after attorneys argued before the Supreme Court, state House Democratic Leader Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto issued a fundraising appeal from his party’s Leadership PAC. He wrote that opponents of 42 “are working to hoodwink the voter” and, “They have placed a similar sounding but ultimately toothless alternative on the ballot to confuse voters.”