The battle over President Bush’s judicial nominations is a real test of the Right’s ability and courage to take on the leftist race-baiters who hold a hammerlock on judicial appointments through their leverage in the Democratic Party. To date, conservatives have been tiptoeing around the caustic accusations launched against these nominees by talking endlessly about the nomination process, or the rules of the Senate, or how the qualifications of the candidates speak for themselves. But it’s time to call a spade a spade, launch a frontal assault, and divide and conquer a fragile enemy. Public opinion polls show that voters do care about the court nominations being held up and support the diverse group Bush has submitted for consideration. As George W. Bush travels the country this month, the parts of his speeches garnering the loudest applause are those where he reaffirms his determination to get his nominees past the Senate.
Yes, there is the not-so-small matter of the reported $50 million the Left has collectively socked away for this fight, but money aside, the coalition of bigots is more fragile than they appear. Their national leadership is removed from the masses and barely able to stand each other these days. Conservatives can and should exploit this fragility to get Bush’s judicial nominations to the Senate floor for an up or down vote.
Leading the charge on Bush’s nominees is the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). The LCCR is a flow chart of the left-wing conspiracy determined to attack the President and Republican lawmakers. A coalition of about 180 leftists groups, the LCCR operates on consensus, meaning a break in that consensus can bring down its entire house of cards.
Having the “right” kinds of judges in place is vital to the continuance of the LCCR agenda to litigate their way to wealth redistribution. After anti-discrimination laws were passed and social welfare programs established, the Civil Rights movement ran up against the limit of legislative tolerance for its socialist-inspired agenda. As with so many others on the Left, the LCCR turned to the courts to accomplish what they couldn’t get approval for through Congress. Controling that court system is vital to the movement’s very existence, even if its leaders abandon the people they claim to represent in the process.
When Clarence Thomas was nominated by George H.W. Bush to the top court, the LCCR worked tirelessly to kill the nomination. It didn’t matter that public opinion polls of black Americans showed that 60 percent approved Thomas’s confirmation and 69 percent of those polled did not want to see him defeated simply because black organizations opposed him. At this,William L. Taylor, board member of the LCCREF, dismissed the polls as the “views of the uninformed.” (Take note: the leaders of the movement believe their followers are stupid.)
The Thomas nomination revealed a schism in the black community that still roils under the surface. The National Urban League did not oppose the Thomas nomination and the issue was raised whether black civil rights groups represented the views of black people across the nation. At the time, Howard University political science professor Ronald W. Walters stated, “Many blacks are turned off by the civil rights movement.” More recently, civil rights lawyer Leo Terrell resigned from the NAACP over that organization’s blind rejection of qualified blacks nominated by George W. Bush.
The LCCR also has other fractures that could be exploited and lead to long-term divisions within the victim class. Most significantly, the LCCR has a Hispanic problem.
On the 40th anniversary of the LCCR its long-time legal counsel, Joseph L. Rauh, recalled that “The LCCR started out with a black focus; it was to do something for the blacks. What’s happened in this country is that the black fight has become much broader than black.” But the LCCR has experienced that following the black model isn’t enough for some of its member groups.
The first clash came in 1975 when, under the chairmanship of the NAACP’s lobbyist Clarence Mitchell, the LCCR refused to back changes to the Voting Rights Act that would allow foreign language ballots. Although many within the LCCR supported the Hispanic effort, Mitchell did not want their provisions included because they were demanding a “national origins” provision in addition to the “race, color, and creed” provisions. Several members of the LCCR, led by Rauh, created a separate coalition which was successful in enacting the Hispanic-based provisions.
Mitchell was furious and shocked attendees of an LCCR meeting when he lost his temper. According to Rauh, Mitchell said, “Blacks were dying for the right to vote when you people couldn’t decide whether you were Caucasians.” Mitchell fiercely resented the Hispanics’ “sense of superiority” and their aloofness. But this event exposed an LCCR mentality of that would cause problems for Hispanics again.
During an interview Raoul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza, contended that the difficulties working together came not from Hispanic arrogance, but rather from a reluctance of blacks to work with them. In joining the LCCR, “Hispanics were adding credibility to a coalition, and continually supporting it on a lot of issues that didn’t have any particular relevance to us. But when we asked for help on our issues, the door was closed.”
Fissures reopened in 1986 with passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Hispanics were opposed to employer sanctions for hiring illegal aliens because it would lead, they feared, to discrimination against legal residents by employers seeking to avoid any problems with the feds. However, the LCCR would not support the Hispanics because both the AFL-CIO and the NAACP supported the sanctions. In March 1990, the General Accounting Office released a report finding that the employer sanctions had indeed caused widespread discrimination against Hispanics. When the LCCR still was unable to achieve a consensus statement in favor of repealing the sanctions, tempers erupted and the Hispanic groups picketed the 40th Anniversary dinner with threats to resign from the coalition.
In the end, a compromise was reached to avert a public embarrassment. The LCCR agreed to develop statements and position papers favoring repeal of the sanctions as long as they were labeled as non-consensus statements. But the comments of Yzaguirre to the depleted audience at the end of the dinner are more indicative of the situation: “We have experienced the pain of being an afterthought. We have watched as our issues were ignored. And we have witnessed a process that says to us that we do not count as much as other groups.”
Despite the efforts to patch up the cracks in the foundation, the tension between black leaders and Hispanics may always run high. A 2003 U.S. Census report revealed that Hispanics are now the largest minority in the country. By numerous standards, Hispanics have leapfrogged over blacks toward a stronger economic footing. This phenomenon is causing deep divisions between the two groups.
As Hispanics become more politically involved, they will cause trouble for the black leaders who have run the Civil Rights show for more than a half century. But there are also divisions within the Hispanic community as there are within the black community. For example, the venerable League of United Latin American Citizens, which has allowed its membership in the LCCR to lapse, supported Miguel Estrada’s recently withdrawn judicial nomination while the National Council of La Raza opposed him.
The underlying challenge—and opportunity—for conservatives is to play these constituent parts against one other. Within the black community, play the national race-baiter leadership against the black voters they consider too stupid to make the right decisions. Do the same within the more diverse Hispanic community. And then play the Hispanics against the blacks within the Civil Rights leadership. The LCCR has been on shaky ground since its inception, and it is time that conservatives make the most of that stress to put an end the intimidation tactics. Only by breaking apart their stranglehold on the nation's judiciary can that body return to sane jurisprudence.