The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Report Calls on Bush Administration to Accept, Enforce Effects of 'Grutter' Decision
Feature Story by Ritu Kelotra - 12/17/2003As part of their administration assessments since 1984, the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights (CCCR) last week released "The Bush Administration v. Affirmative Action," a report that explores the administration's hesitation to offer guidance after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark affirmative action ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger.
"The administration has fought the policy tooth and nail," said William L. Taylor, acting chair for CCCR and vice-chair for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. "President Bush has difficulty putting the words 'affirmative' and 'action' together."
In Grutter, the Supreme Court affirmed that racial diversity in higher education is a compelling state interest. Since then, CCCR's report concludes, the Department of Justice has not fulfilled its customary role of offering guidance and answering questions for the American people regarding important high court decisions.
Taylor said that since the Bush administration to date has not offered to address Grutter's effects, CCCR published its report, which explores issues such as race-conscious diversity policies in public elementary and secondary schools, military programs, scholarship programs, and federal procurement programs.
"While the principle favoring diversity declared by the Court is clear, many questions arise about how it will be applied in specific circumstances," the report states. "As in so many areas of law, the devil is in the details."
Roger Wilkins, a CCCR commissioner who teaches at George Mason University, stressed the importance of the Supreme Court's decision regarding the University of Michigan law school's admissions policies. He said that in the seven years he attended the Univ. of Michigan – both undergraduate and law – he never had a professor of color, or a professor who was female.
"Because of affirmative action, the University of Michigan is so much better – incomparably better," he said.
Wilkins, who was an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, said he agreed with the CCCR report. He also said that the Bush administration's reaction toward Grutter could be compared to President Dwight Eisenhower's reluctance to support the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.
"President Bush is neglecting his constitutional duty as chief enforcer of the law," Wilkins said. "This is a lesson the Justice Department could be teaching all over the country. But it does not choose to do so."
Taylor agreed with Wilkins' assessment.
"Does government have the responsibility to provide opportunities to people who have been denied them in the past?" he asked. "Most Definitely."