Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Mary Frances Berry, Exeunt

Mary Frances Berry, former Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, whose term on that body legally expired at midnight on Sunday, "resigned" today, along with Vice-Chairman Cruz Reynoso.
In fact, Ms. Berry and Mr. Reynoso had nothing left to resign, as their appointments both expired on Sunday. However, both these individuals, despite the plain terms of their appointments, and in the face of opinions to the contrary by the Congressional Research Service and the US Court of Appeals, insisted that their terms continued through 21 January 2005. Evidently, they decided to give up the farce when it became apparent that President Bush wasn't having any of it: he appointed their successors yesterday.
The Civil Rights Commission, its management practices (or lack thereof) the subject of severe criticism by both the Office of Personnel Management and the Government Accountability Office, has spent the past four years conducting low-level guerrilla warfare against the Bush administration. A typical example was the decision to keep a controversial report on the Bush administration's civil rights record on the commission's website during the election -- despite the fact that half the commission's members dissented and were highly critical of the report. The Commission, far from engaging in any substantive work, has under Ms. Berry's leadership become little more than a pulpit from which to pillory conservatives in general and the Bush administration in particular.
If the White House is, as it should be, looking for places to trim the budget -- a good place to start would be with the abolition of the Civil Rights Commission.

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