Sunday, October 10, 2004

George W. Bush is not committed to civil rights.

Why you’re right:

1. Bush nominated judges to the federal bench who are hostile to civil rights. For example, Bush nominated Charles Pickering Sr. for a U.S. Appeals Court post. Pickering once contacted a friend at the Department of Justice to try to get a reduced sentence for a man who was convicted of cross burning, which Pickering referred to as “youthful prank.” When Pickering’s nomination was rejected by the Senate, Bush installed him to the post during a congressional recess. (United States Commission on Civil Rights)

2. Bush reduced funding for government departments responsible for major civil rights programs. After accounting for inflation, the President’s requests for the six major civil rights programs (Departments of Education, Labor, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) amount to a loss of spending power for 2004 and 2005. (United States Commission on Civil Rights)

3. Bush doesn’t communicate with civil rights leaders. He does not invite them to the White House to discuss policy concepts or regularly attend their events. (United States Commission on Civil Rights)

4. Bush is not committed to voting rights. After securing election by a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court, Bush promised to quickly enact voting reform. But the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) wasn’t signed into law until 2002. Then, Bush seated the federal election reform oversight board created by the law 11 months behind schedule, resulting in delayed fund distribution to states. Consequently, states do not have the equipment, infrastructure, or guidance they needed to meet HAVA’s deadlines, including implementation of statewide voter registration databases, development of voter complaint procedures, and installation of new voting equipment. (United States Commission on Civil Rights)

Why they’re wrong:

Bush plays occasional lip service to civil rights. But, more often than not, he is talking about issues that have little connection to civil rights. For example, he consistently refers to his faith based initiatives as a civil rights measure. But the faith-based initiative, however meritorious, does not help ensure equality and justice irrespective of race, ethnicity or gender. According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the only connection between the president’s faith-based initiative and civil rights is that the initiative “allows employment discrimination prohibited under Title VII.” (United States Commission on Civil Rights)