NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Critics Say Civil Rights Commission Should Be Abolished

April 19, 2000

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was created in 1957 as a bipartisan and temporary federal agency to monitor racial discrimination and federal enforcement of equal protection laws. But, critics charge, over the years it has wandered away from its mandate and become increasingly politicized.

  • It is about to release a report highly critical of New York City police tactics -- which political observers charge is a direct challenge to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and an attempt to shore up support for First Lady Hillary Clinton in their race for the U.S. Senate.
  • Another upcoming report attacks Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's plan to replace racial preferences in college admissions with a program guaranteeing slots to students who graduate in the top 20 percent of their high school class -- while also attacking Texas Gov. George W. Bush, whose state has a similar race-neutral admissions policy.
  • The commission does not actually enforce civil-rights laws but submits reports, findings and recommendations to the president and Congress on a purely advisory basis.
  • The commission's current budget is about $8.9 million and it employs a staff of fewer than 100.

While that is certainly small by Washington standards, critics point out that with laws already on the book outlawing discrimination in virtually every area; with thousands of federal, state and local government employees enforcing those laws; and with discrimination against women and minorities fast disappearing, the commission's reason for being has largely evaporated.

Source: Linda Chavez (Center for Equal Opportunity), "A Commission Without a Cause," Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2000.


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