Media figures have emphasized the fact that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is technically "bipartisan" to hype its investigation of the Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panther Party case. In reality, the commission's chair has acknowledged that conservatives "gam[ed] the system" and packed the panel with conservative activists, and the commission's two Democrats, as well as one Republican, have criticized the investigation.
Media emphasize that USCCR is "bipartisan"
Kelly: USCCR is an "independent, bipartisan government agency." On her Fox News show, Megyn Kelly reported: "Stunning new developments in the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights -- that's an independent, bipartisan government agency -- investigating why a case against the New Black Panthers was dropped by the DOJ after it had already been won." [Fox News' America Live, 7/8/10]
Brzezinski reports on investigation by "bipartisan panel." On Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski reported: "A bipartisan panel investigating allegations that the Justice Department wrongly abandoned a case against the New Black Panther Party is planning to issue a new round of subpoenas and call for a separate federal probe." [MSNBC's Morning Joe, 7/8/10]
Washington Examiner: USCCR is "bipartisan." A May 18 post by J.P. Freire on the Washington Examiner blog Beltway Confidential asserted: "A letter of resignation obtained by The Washington Examiner from a former Justice Department employee makes clear DOJ has refused to allow attorneys in the Voting Rights Section to testify before the congressionally-chartered bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, despite subpoenas that could result in their being held in contempt."
NAACP's Julian Bond: USCCR "has become a political arm of the conservative movement in America." A March 16, 2005, Associated Press article reported (accessed via Nexis): "Julian Bond, chair of the NAACP said the commission barely resembles its former incarnation." The article quoted Bond saying, "It's the most conservative commission ever and the one least disposed toward defending, protecting and reporting on civil rights. ... It has become a political arm of the conservative movement in America."
Main Justice: Commission is "conservative-dominated" and "conservative-controlled." A June 14 Main Justice article reported that "the conservative-dominated Civil Rights Commission opened an investigation" into the Justice Department's actions and that "[l]ast month, the conservative-controlled commission heard testimony about the case from Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez."
Yaki reportedly called investigation a "kangaroo court." A February 8 article at the legal news website Main Justice reported, "The makeup of the commission has been called into question by some; four of the eight current members of the Civil Rights Commission are Republicans, two are Democrats and two are independents who switched their affiliation from Republican to independent. Months ago Michael Yaki, one of the commission's two Democrats, complained, 'This is basically going to be a partisan kangaroo court, convened by my partisan colleagues.' "
Yaki: "[F]ar right majority" is pursuing "partisan and ideological agenda." In a July 7 statement, Yaki said that the USCCR's "far-right majority" has a "blatant disregard of the bipartisan charge" of the commission and is pursuing "a partisan and ideological agenda." Yaki concluded:
This investigation, such as it is, has been incredibly shallow, expensive, and partisan. There exist serious issues today involving discrimination and racism in this country that the Commission's far-right majority has ignored in its quixotic pursuit of a conspiracy and a policy that do not exist. These proceedings are reminiscent of an inquisition, a star chamber, and a witch hunt. They are not worthy of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
This absence of voter intimidation was clear to the Justice Department last spring, which is why they took the course of action that they did.
This absence of voter intimidation was clear to the members of this Commission as well, or at least it should've been. Our investigation has been going on now for the better part of a year. We have wasted a good deal of our staff's time, and the taxpayers' money.
In addition to that, we have also consumed a considerable amount of the Justice Department's resources, forcing them to devote attention to a case that they had long ago concluded was meritless.
Thernstrom: Inquiry has not
Heriot reportedly was an alternate delegate to GOP convention and changed to independent seven months before appointment. In the November 2007 Globe article, Savage reported:
Heriot is a Federalist Society activist. According to her San Diego University biography, Heriot serves as chair of the conservative Federalist Society's executive committee on civil rights and has been a member since 1998.
Heriot advised GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch. According to her faculty bio page, Heriot served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and
Heriot: "Racial and gender preferences act as a straitjacket to diversity." In 1996, Heriot served as the statewide co-chair for California's Proposition 209, a measure that outlawed affirmative action programs. In a July 24, 1996, Washington Times op-ed (from Nexis), Heriot argued in support of California Prop 209 and wrote, "Racial and gender preferences act as a straightjacket to diversity -- both on campus and in the work place. The tyranny of 'keeping up the numbers' prevails." According to a December 6, 1999, Miami Herald article (from Nexis) headlined "Florida chosen as next battleground to try to dismantle racial preferences," Heriot co-wrote a 2000 Florida ballot initiate that sought to end affirmative action in public hiring.
Heriot advocated for Bush judicial nominees. In a May 8, 2002, San Diego Union-Tribune op-ed (from Nexis), Heriot criticized Democrats for their "stony silence" toward Bush judicial nominees Michael McConnell, Miguel Estrada, and John Roberts.
Before joining former Attorney General Edwin Meese at The Heritage Foundation in 1997, Mr. Gaziano served under noted conservative leaders in all three branches of the federal government. He was Chief Counsel to the House Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs, where he worked on government-wide regulatory reform legislation for Chairman David McIntosh. He served in the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Justice Department, which provides advice on constitutional and legal issues to the President, the Attorney General, and other Cabinet Secretaries. He also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Edith H. Jones, United States Judge for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Gaziano is director of right-wing Heritage Foundation project. Gaziano serves as the director for the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation.
Gaziano called "so-called hate crime laws" "counterproductive." Gaziano was quoted in the Chicago Tribune (accessed via Nexis) opposing hate-crime legislation, saying, "Even the best so-called hate crimes laws are redundant, unnecessary and sometimes counterproductive. ... There is no serious evidence that any state is not prosecuting the underlying acts. All states prosecute murder as murder, assault as assault, battery as battery." [Chicago Tribune, 10/19/98]
Gaziano attacked Obama over von Spakovsky hold. A 2007 Politico article reporting on Democrats "blocking" former Justice Department attorney Hans von Spakovsky's controversial nomination to the Federal Election Commission quoted Gaziano attacking then-Sen. Obama's opposition, saying it was "nothing more than fear-mongering with potential liberal voters" and that the hold shows "desperation in his political campaign." A June 14, 2007, New York Times editorial headlined "Another sorry ascension" stated, "It apparently wasn't enough for the Bush administration to pack the Department of Justice with political operatives. The White House has now nominated one of the most meddlesome of those partisans, Hans von Spakovsky, to a powerful post on the Federal Election Commission."
Gaziano supported stripping felons of the right to vote and said minority communities "ought to be most grateful." From a December 17, 2000, Tampa Tribune article (from Nexis):
Todd Gaziano, a senior fellow in legal studies for the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank, said stripping felons of the right to vote is no different than ordering them to make restitution or perform community service.
Gaziano rejects arguments that such laws are aimed at stripping blacks of their constitutional right to vote.
Gaziano says the disenfranchisement laws provide a benefit to minority communities, which are often economically depressed and crime-ridden: It gives law-abiding citizens the right not to have their votes "diluted" by former lawbreakers.
Gaziano helped prepare challenge seeking to overturn Miranda protections. An April 19. 2000, Boston Globe article (accessed via Nexis) reported that Gaziano "has been helping to prepare the challenge" against "the 1966 Supreme Court ruling requiring police officers to read suspects their rights." From the article:
Television viewers of shows from "Dragnet" to "NYPD Blue" know it as well as lawyers: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."
Those are the opening lines to the so-called Miranda rights, named for the 1966 Supreme Court ruling requiring police officers to read suspects their rights. But the ruling, which has become embedded in popular culture as deeply as it is rooted in criminal procedure, faces a serious challenge this week. Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether Miranda should be drastically scaled back, or even eliminated.
Miranda's critics argue that it is the honorable police officers whose work is frustrated by a strict reading of the rule.
Gaziano compared Clinton, federal civil rights officials to segregationists. In a 1998 article titled
Gaziano:"[C]onservatives and liberals all agree" Sotomayor is "dumb." Appearing on the August 29, 2009, edition (comments at 16:48) of the syndicated radio show Radio Free Washington Gaziano commented: "The other conclusion I think conservatives and liberals all agree on after the hearing: She's dumb. We all were unimpressed with her intellect." Gaziano later commented: "Well, she's quite smart compared to the average person. Compared to the average potential Supreme Court justice, she's, you know, quite unimpressive."
Reynolds was appointed by Bush. Reynolds' USCCR biography states:
Reynolds' appointment said to signal
Reynolds was criticized by Women's Law Center for opposition to "critical element of civil rights enforcement." In a USA Today article about Reynolds' appointment as assistant secretary of education for the Office of Civil Rights, Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women's Law Center, was quoted saying: "The fact that (Reynolds) comes with stated opposition to such a critical element of civil rights enforcement [Title IX] of the laws he would be charged with overseeing and interpreting is very problematic." [USA Today, 7/18/01]
Reynolds eventually installed through recess appointment after objections were raised to his "longstanding hostility to basic civil rights laws." The New York Times reported in a March 30, 2002, article: "President Bush used his power to make appointments during Congressional recesses today to name a young black lawyer who is a vocal critic of preferences for minorities to be head of the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education." The article reported that "civil rights groups and advocates for women and the disabled, among others, quickly lined up against the nomination, arguing that he was hostile to their concerns and had little experience in the field." The article also quoted Sen. Ted Kennedy saying: "'I was struck by his lack of education policy experience and his longstanding hostility to basic civil rights laws.'' [The New York Times, 3/30/02]
Reynolds acknowledged that conservatives were "gam[ing] the system." NPR reported that Reynolds "does not dispute that his colleagues have the advantage" and quoted Reynolds saying, "I'm a very cynical fellow. ... My assumption is that given an opportunity, Democrats and Republicans will each game the system." The article continued:
In this case, Reynolds does not believe the party switches undermine the intent of the commission's creators.
Taylor was appointed by George W. Bush. Taylor's official biography notes that Taylor
Taylor reportedly served as counsel to McCain campaign. A November 3, 2008, Cleveland Plain Dealer article identified Taylor as "an attorney for McCain," and a November 5, 2008, Washington Times article identified Taylor as someone who "represents the McCain campaign."
Taylor served as delegate to 2004 GOP convention. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies listed Taylor among a roster of black delegates and alternates to the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Kirsanow said Obama had a "mentor-protégé" relationship with Ayers. In a September 24, 2008, National Review Online blog post, Kirsanow pushed a Stanley Kurtz piece that he said described "what appears to be an attempt to cover-up the extent of Sen. Obama's ties to William Ayers." Kirsanow called it a "big story" that illustrated that it "certainly looks more like a mentor-protégé relationship than a tenuous relationship between two guys who happen to live in the same neighborhood." Kirsanow concluded his post:
The story of a why an unrepentant terrorist has such a close relationship with a presidential candidate should have reporters swarming over the Obama campaign demanding answers.
Kirsanow invoked right-wing bogeyman ACORN in attacking Obama. In an October 10, 2008, National Review Online post, Kirsanow called on Sen. John McCain to attack Obama for his "judgment/radical associations" and wrote that "as Stanley Kurtz demonstrates, McCain can do both at the same time," since "Obama and Ayers serve together on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge where they funnel tons of cash to finance ACORN." Kirsanow also wrote, "And then there's ACORN's 'voter registration efforts.' "
Kirsanow advanced the falsehood that Obama supported infanticide. In an October 6, 2008, National Review Online blog post, Kirsanow proposed questions for "[a]nyone attending" a town hall to ask Obama. Kirsanow suggested that it would be appropriate to ask whether Obama believes "a baby is a human being" that would be "entitled to human rights" and whether Obama's "uncertainty regarding this issue [is] the reason [he] voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act," a falsehood aggressively pushed by right-wing media during the election. Many of Kirsanow's questions continued to advance the false claim that Obama and Ayers were friends.
Kirsanow got recess appointment to NLRB. According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Kirsanow was installed to the board through a recess appointment by Bush on January 4, 2006. A January 5, 2006, Associated Press article (from Nexis) reported that AFL-CIO President John Sweeney expressed "disappointment" with Kirsanow's recess appointment and quoted Kennedy saying, "He is an ardent foe of basic worker protections, including the minimum wage and prevailing wage laws, and is a vehement opponent of affirmative action."
Kirsanow has an extensive record of advocating conservative positions on issues of diversity. In his writing for National Review Online, Kirsanow frequently advocates against affirmative action measures in school admissions and hiring. He has criticized Obama's support for affirmative action, derided "diversity" as a "feel-good" term, and called affirmative action in law-school admissions a "return to racially discriminatory policies."
— T.A., M.F.B., S.E., & T.G