State Appeals Court mulls over cloning
Ruling on wording
of ballot initiative
expected in 2 weeks
By Allen Palmeri
March 7, 2006
KANSAS CITY – Missouri Baptist observers were pleased by the spirit of the questioning and the demeanor of the judges in an appeals court hearing March 2 in the case involving a proposed ballot initiative to create a constitutional right to clone human embryos.
Presiding Judge James M. Smart Jr., Judge Victor C. Howard and Judge Ronald R. Holliger of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, seemed to seriously consider the plaintiffs’ assertion that the ballot initiative language “shall ban human cloning” is deceptive and therefore unlawful—an argument that was rejected in the Jan. 19 trial by Cole County Senior Judge Byron Kinder.
At the close of oral arguments, the court distributed a half-page summary of the proposed amendment to both sets of attorneys, saying that while the summary was anonymous and non-binding, it was the court’s invitation to the attorneys to read this alternate language for the purpose of formulating their responses to the court by March 6. Missouri Baptist observers interpreted the court’s unusual action in a positive light.
“From a layman’s perspective, I’m gleeful,” said Rodney Albert, chairman of the Christian Life Commission of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). “The judges asked great questions. They demonstrated a good understanding of our contentions. From what we heard on the bench, I’m very hopeful for a positive decision in our favor.”
The ballot title language written by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has been ruled to be sufficient and fair by Judge Kinder, with Attorney Karen Mitchell handling the oral argument on appeal for the defense. It is not known when the three-judge panel will release its decision.
Missourians Against Human Cloning (MAHC) has emerged as a non-profit organization leading the legal challenge. The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures has expressed confidence that the state-approved ballot initiative language will bear up under all judicial scrutiny and that 145,000 signatures will be collected so that the initiative will be placed on the November 7 general election ballot. MAHC attorneys have responded by vowing to vigorously pursue various avenues of justice in the legal system.
There are four “bullet points” on “the proposed amendment” sheet that the court handed out to attorneys. The first point includes language that is “accurate and a vast improvement on the current ballot summary,