Affirmative Action Group Assails “Civil Rights Report”

Media 08.18.05

Washington, DC – Today Americans for a Fair Chance, a project of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF), issued a blistering rebuttal to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) “report” Federal Procurement After Adarand. The report claims to recommend methods by which government agencies can enforce settled law consistent with the Supreme Court’s 1995 decision upholding equal opportunity in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena but, instead of suggesting ways to uphold the law, the Commission’s report challenges the viability of enforcing equal opportunity.

“The USCCR’s report takes excessive liberties with the facts and with the law,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and counselor to LCCR’s public education arm, LCCREF. “This Commission is going to great lengths to undercut the very mission it’s designed to uphold – overseeing the enforcement of our civil rights laws. Commissioner Michael Yaki has said that this report not only ignores the well-established history of discrimination in contracting, it undermines attempts to correct it.”

In the rebuttal issued by Americans for a Fair Chance, the group identifies unsubstantiated and ideological points in the USCCR’s report and raises specific concerns, including:

  • The Commission argues that well established race-conscious strategies should take a back seat to race-neutral programs. The Commission’s position that implementation and measurement of race-neutral programs supersede race-conscious efforts – even if they were enacted based on an established history of discrimination – is unjustified and would inordinately burden federal agencies.

  • The Commission recommends excessive review of race-conscious agency programming. Given the size and scope of federal procurement programs, annual or biennial reviews of race-conscious programs – as recommended by the Commission – would put an inordinate burden on government agencies, effectively encouraging the abandonment of programs counted on by Americans.

“The goal of achieving equal opportunity in procurement and contracting is far from being realized, even under current policies. Adding these inordinate burdens on federal agencies by misinterpreting the Supreme Court’s decisions, make the overall goal of true equity in these programs virtually impossible,” said Henderson. This report turns the mission of the Commission on its head – the agency is overlooking its responsibility to protect civil rights laws, choosing instead to advance an ideological agenda.”

Full text of the rebuttal