Affirmative Action Ensures That Qualified People Get a Fair Chance

Article excerpt

William A. Rusher's July 12 column, "Funding racial preference," is an example of the erroneous information employed in attacks on affirmative action and attacks on those who urge that affirmative action be preserved. His misleading and inaccurate column illustrates why public education on affirmative action is imperative.

Mr. Rusher's claim that the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has received foundation funding to oppose the California Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) or to engage in other political activities is false.

The Lawyers' Committee has received funding from foundations to work with other civil rights organizations to inform the public about affirmative action - a primary means for achieving the nation's promise of equal opportunity that has been the topic of much public debate over the past year. Public education and debate on this topic are neither lobbying nor political activity, however, and are in full accord with IRS guidelines. Contrary to Mr. Rusher's column, the Lawyers' Committee has not received or committed a single cent of foundation funding for lobbying or political activities in opposition to the CCRI.

Moreover, Mr. Rusher made these assertions without speaking to anyone from our committee. Instead, Mr. Rusher apparently lifted from another article a quote from the director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, a separate, independent local organization.

Furthermore, Mr. Rusher is careless and inaccurate in his use of language. Mr. Rusher mischaracterizes as "rabidly political organizations" avowedly nonpartisan legal organizations such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (founded by the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall), the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the Women's Legal Defense Fund, each of which has worked for years to secure equal opportunities for individuals ex-cluded from full participation in our society. …