Judge rejects eminent domain ballot summary

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. | A judge on Tuesday struck down a ballot summary prepared by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan for an initiative that would limit the use of eminent domain to take private property for redevelopment.

Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled that Carnahan’s summary was “insufficient and unfair” because it suggests the measure would add some protections for private property that already exist in the state constitution.

The ruling marks the second time within a week that Callahan has rejected ballot summaries prepared by the secretary of state’s office. Last Friday, he invalidated the summary for an initiative limiting affirmative action programs.

Under Missouri’s initiative process, the secretary of state’s office is responsible for writing a summary that appears on petition-signature sheets and the ballot.

Supporters, opponents and state attorneys have until next week to decide whether to appeal Callahan’s recent decisions. Initiative sponsors are waiting until there is greater legal certainty before gathering signatures to get their measures on the November 2010 ballot.