Law panel to address NAACP Missouri travel advisory

The School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis will host a panel discussion Friday, Sept. 1, to address the NAACP travel advisory in Missouri.

Gerald Early, the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters in Arts & Sciences, will provide opening remarks, followed by a panel discussion that includes Jay Nixon, former governor of Missouri; Peggie R. Smith, the Charles F. Nagel Professor of Employment and Labor Law; and Elizabeth Sepper, professor of law.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from noon-1 p.m. in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom in Anheuser-Busch Hall.

The panel will discuss the issues behind the NAACP’s travel advisory. The warning, which was announced by the organization in early August, results from the June passage of Missouri Senate Bill 43, which makes it more difficult for employees to prove their protected class, such as race or gender, led to unlawful discrimination.

“We are thrilled to have such an esteemed panel discussing this very complex and timely issue,” said Nancy Staudt, dean of the School of Law and the Howard & Caroline Cayne Professor of Law. “A question-and-answer period will follow the panelists, giving our community the chance to talk through these issues with noted experts.”

Early wrote about the bill in a recent editorial on CNN.com, saying that the measure “drastically shifts the burden of proof from defendant to plaintiff in employment and other discrimination cases.

“The NAACP has responded to this bill, which it vigorously opposed for months, by issuing its first ever racial ‘travel warning,’ telling African-Americans to take extra care and precaution when traveling in Missouri — a state whose tourism industry hardly needs the challenge of fighting this particular stigma,” Early wrote.

“The travel warning is a way for the NAACP to emphasize that Missouri is not only provincial, but dangerously so. One way of looking at the travel warning is that the NAACP is saying that blacks are too cosmopolitan to go to places like Missouri in its current political state.”

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