Statement by PFAWF President Ralph G. Neas Welcomes Condoleezza Rice’s Message on Affirmative Action
President Bush's urging the Supreme Court to rule against the University of Michigan's affirmative action program shows that his administration's policies on civil rights and equal opportunity bear no relation to its rhetoric. It also puts Bush at odds with members of the military and business community who have come out in support of the University of Michigan program.
A review of 17 significant votes since Sen. Bill Frist joined the Senate in 1995 demonstrates that the possible replacements for Sen. Trent Lott have very similar voting records on a range of issues, including civil rights, affirmative action, hate crimes legislation, reproductive choice, private school vouchers, economic opportunity, and judicial nominations.
What exactly are the real civil rights agenda and the judicial philosophy of the Bush administration and Republican senators? This debate is urgently needed because the Republican Party’s civil rights problem is far broader and deeper than Trent Lott – and because the next 12 to 24 months could determine the law of the land for the next several decades. And if George Bush and Senate Republican leaders get their way – not just Trent Lott, but all the other contenders – they could turn back the clock on half a century of legal and constitutional protections.
PFAW report examines legal and judicial philosophies
and Bush administration record on civil rights issues
A review of 16 key civil rights votes over the past 20 years demonstrates that several potential GOP challengers to Trent Lott have voting records that are very similar to Lott’s on civil rights enforcement, equal opportunity and related issues.
For more than 30 years, the New York State Senate had failed to act on legislation that would prohibit discrimination against gay men and lesbians in employment, housing and public accommodations. Today, the state Senate broke with its past and not only voted on, but approved, by a 34-26 vote, legislation to expand the State’s civil rights law in an attempt to help bring an end to discriminatory treatment of gays.
Apology for recent words ignores decades of hostility and insensitivity toward civil rights principles and protections
Today in a Mississippi press conference, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott offered another apology for his latest statement that Americans would have been better off if Strom Thurmond had won his 1948 bid for the U.S. presidency on a segregationist platform.
Even as Florida voters re-elected Governor Jeb Bush, they also passed Amendment 9, by a margin of 52 to 48 percent3, an education ballot measure he vigorously opposed.4 This amendment writes into the state’s Constitution class size limits in public schools of 18 students for grades pre-K-3; 22 students for grades 4-8; and 25 students for grades 9-12.5 The amendment requires the state — not local school districts — to fund these class-size reductions over eight years.
A number of states considered various plans to increase public education funding, most of which passed.
Two years ago, Arizona voters approved a measure that allowed raising teacher salaries, but school districts were unable to comply as they were bound by tight spending limits. Passage of Proposition 104 corrects that situation and now teacher salaries can be raised even if they exceed state prescribed limits.42
Voters in Colorado rejected a measure that would have banned native-language support for non-English speaking students and, instead, required one year of English immersion. Silicon Valley millionaire and national chairman of “English for the Children” Ron Unz, was sponsor and financier of Amendment 31. Two other anti-bilingual initiatives backed by Unz — measures in Arizona (2000)54 and California (1998)55 — were passed by wide margins. The outcome in Colorado marked the first time an Unz-funded initiative was defeated.
A television ad urging Florida voters to support Amendment 9, the class size reduction initiative, is hitting the airwaves around Florida this week. The ad campaign, which is being paid for by People For the American Way’s Florida Campaign Account, was launched at a press conference today in Tallahassee. The ad will be on the air this week in Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and other markets.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been caught on tape bragging to a group of Panhandle lawmakers that he has “devious plans” for dealing with the class size reduction initiative, Amendment 9, if voters approve it. In a report by Gannett News Service, Bush claimed that if voters approve the initiative, he would not abide by their decision and, instead, suggested he would put the initiative back on the ballot accompanied by specific tax hikes or program cuts.