Judge: ‘personhood’ measure can go on ballot

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Published: October 27,2010

JACKSON — A Mississippi judge has ruled that a proposed “personhood” amendment seeking to define life as beginning at conception can be placed before voters in 2011.

Hinds County Circuit Judge Malcolm Harrison issued the decision Tuesday.

While abortion has been the central issue in debate about the initiative, opposing sides in the lawsuit had clashed over whether the “personhood” amendment oversteps the boundaries for proposed state constitutional amendments.

Opponents of the amendment had argued that the initiative process can’t be used to change the state constitution’s bill of rights. They said the amendment would change the bill of rights by reshaping the definition of the term “person,” which is not specifically defined now.

Harrison, in his decision, said the initiative received more than the required number of signatures to be placed on the ballot “and the constitution recognizes the right of citizens to amend their constitution.”

Cliff Johnson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he will appeal the ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Regardless of how Harrison ruled, the losing side was expected to appeal.

Measure 26 is the designation given to by the secretary of state’s office to this initiative.

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