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Civil Wrongs By: Mark Trapp
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, March 30, 2001


JUDGE THERESA CISNEROS of Colorado's Fourth District has a nifty new way to increase "diversity" among her summer clerks: only African-American law students are allowed to apply.

Judge Cisneros, in conjunction with the El Paso County (CO) Bar Association Diversity Committee and the Sachs Foundation, has approved two summer judicial clerkships limited solely to black law students. Indeed, the advertisement for the positions states that "you must be African American." Only if you meet this "requirement" may you contact Judge Cisneros for an application to "study and learn with experienced judges in the 4th Judicial District in Colorado Springs, Co."

Apparently, the Sachs Foundation is supplying the $18,486 to pay for these two clerkships. According to its website, the Sachs Foundation "was incorporated as a Colorado, non-profit corporation in 1931 and since that time has helped over 6,670 black Colorado residents obtain a college education." The group provides grants to about 250 black students per year.

Interestingly the Sachs Foundation has various ways of determining whether an applicant is truly an African American. Their website states that the group considers "a person to be an African-American if they are a member of the African-American race. Applicants with mixed racial and ethnic backgrounds must demonstrate their racial identity to be predominantly African-American and the Trustees will interview and make a determination as to qualification in those cases which are uncertain. Information as to philosophy, commitment to the African-American race and self-identity may also be considered in such cases."

Wow. Commitment to the African-American race? Philosophy? Apparently, for this group, one's race can be determined by their ideology. Just how does one demonstrate their "commitment to the African American race?" By dating a black person? By voting a certain way? By wearing a Malcolm X t-shirt?

Who would have thought that a sitting judge could be so ignorant as to entangle herself, her court and her county in such a blatantly racist and illegal scheme? To illustrate how outrageous this is, imagine the following:

A sitting judge, in, say, Birmingham, Alabama advertises for two summer clerkships in his court, and states in the ad that the applicant "must be white." Imagine further that the clerkships are to be sponsored and paid for by an Alabama non-profit corporation which provides money solely to "white" students. Next, imagine that in "uncertain cases", this non-profit group determines who is "white" by reference to their "philosophy" and their "commitment to the white race." Sounds like something straight out of a KKK recruitment brochure, doesn't it?

Can you imagine the pandemonium such a state of affairs would cause? Jesse Jackson and his mistress - oops - I mean minions would descend on this judge so fast his head would spin. Al Sharpton would be comparing this judge to David Duke, and the NAACP, the ACLU and Johnnie Cochran would be filing a lawsuit faster than you could say "Orenthal James Simpson." And they would be right in doing so. But don't expect the same reaction when the shoe is on the other foot. After all, America's new commandment, "Thou shalt be diverse" is at stake.

The strangest part of all of this is the blatant lack of knowledge shown by Judge Cisneros. Apparently, she has never heard of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It doesn't take much of an education to figure out that limiting the applicants for these government jobs solely to African Americans blatantly violates this law. You would expect a judge to know this.

You would also expect that at least one of the lawyers in the El Paso County Bar Association would have realized the legal and political problems with these race-based clerkships, and not allowed their group to sponsor them. However, according to the group's website, the chairperson of the Association's "diversity committee" is - you guessed it - Judge Cisneros. Surprise, surprise.

The very idea that a judge and indeed, an entire county's bar association would allow this ad to pass unnoticed demonstrates how screwed-up our society has become in matters dealing with race. Can there be any doubt that if the ad limited applications solely to whites that someone would have objected? Certainly, Judge Cisneros would never become involved in anything so obviously racist. Surely the bar association would have objected. And yet, an ad stating that to apply for the job "you must be African American" apparently met with both the judge's and the bar association's approval.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Dr. King obviously felt that everyone, of whatever race, should have an equal opportunity.

The El Paso County website pays lip service to Dr. King's position, stating that it is "an Equal Opportunity Employer." However, it doesn't sound very "equal" to me. In El Paso County, it seems that some races are more equal than others. Hooray for "diversity."


Mark Trapp is an attorney in private practice and has written previous articles for The Declaration Foundation and Enter Stage Right.


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