MAHC appeals cloning ruling to Missouri Supreme Court
Not known whether high court will hear politically charged case
By Allen Palmeri
April 18, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY – The board of directors of Missourians Against Human Cloning (MAHC) has voted unanimously to appeal a March 28 decision upholding the ballot initiative language “shall ban human cloning” in the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, to the Missouri Supreme Court.
It is not known whether the Missouri Supreme Court will choose to hear the case, which has generated much controversy since Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan wrote the language. The 2-1 appeals court ruling in favor of the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, which is pushing for the legalization of research cloning in Missouri on the November general election ballot, fell in line with that of Cole County Senior Judge Byron Kinder, who affirmed the secretary’s language in the Jan. 19 trial. The MAHC appeal was filed April 12.
MAHC Executive Director Jaci Winship said it is likely that either Kevin Theriot, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, or Michael Whitehead, MAHC co-counsel and lead counsel for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), will represent MAHC before the seven judges of the state’s high court, should the case be heard. It is anticipated that another major plaintiff, the six Missouri Catholic bishops, would have separate legal counsel, Winship said.
“We are appealing because the point hasn’t changed,” Winship said. “It’s still misleading language.”
Meanwhile, MAHC Field Director Bev Ehlen, a member of the The Way Baptist Church in Warrenton, has been spending an average of four days per week in the Chesterfield headquarters of MAHC in a sustained effort to put together a grassroots effort for the much-anticipated six-month battle to come that may lead up to a Nov. 7 general election showdown. Ehlen said her goal is to enlist church coordinators and county coordinators.
“We are working on educating people and putting in place a statewide organization,” Winship said.
The highly politicized nature of the case may make involvement by the Missouri Supreme Court problematic, Missouri Baptist court observers noted. MBC President Ralph Sawyer was asked to comment on how he would feel if the seven judges were to choose to maintain the legal status quo in the case by their predictable inaction in the weeks to come.
“I would be very disappointed if our judicial system were not open to seeking whether or not the petition is misleading in petition form, as it stands right now,” Sawyer said. “It appears to me that this is a misleading petition, and Missouri Baptists and Missourians have the right to know that the petition is misleading.”