Black Lawyers Behind Bush's Affirmative Action Stance

By Coleman, Trevor W. | The New Crisis, March/April 2003 | Go to article overview

Black Lawyers Behind Bush's Affirmative Action Stance


Coleman, Trevor W., The New Crisis


Much of the media attention following President Bush's announcement in January of his opposition to affirmative action focused on the dubious role National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice played in helping to shape his decision.

A small clique of right-wing Black lawyers, all Bush administration appointees, however, played an equally, if not more, influential role.

Shortly after Bush announced he had asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies, an article in The Washington Post reported: "Many black conservative lawyers who are Bush appointees . . . including officials at the Education and Justice Departments, lobbied vociferously for a broader argument against affirmative action."

The article was specifically referring to Gerald A. Reynolds, Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights; Brian W. Jones, general counsel at the Department of Education; and Ralph F. Boyd Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at DOJ.

All of them sided with Solicitor General Ted Olson - an adamant opponent of affirmative action - in arguing that the President should urge the Supreme Court to overturn Bakke in opposing the use of race in affirmative action under any circumstances.

Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, who is African American and a graduate of the University of Michigan law school, argued against Bush filing a brief.

Reynolds first earned his ultraconservative credentials as a legal analyst for the Center for Equal Opportunity, a think tank that opposes affirmative action and diversity policies, and from 1997 to 1998 he served as president and legal counsel to the Center for New Black Leadership (CNBL), a conservative, national public policy think-tank in Washington, D.C.

Prior to his appointment at the Education Department, Jones was an attorney at the San Francisco law firm of Curiale Dellaverson Hirschfeld Kelly & Kraemer. He had also served as Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary to California Governor Pete Wilson and as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D. …

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