- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2001

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Chairman Mary Frances Berry's dictatorial propensities now extend to her disgraceful handling of a dissenting report on the presidential election in Florida. Written by commission members Abigail Thernstrom and Russell Redenbaugh, the dissent takes issue with the conclusions that Miss Berry orchestrated in the majority report. John Lott Jr. a senior research scholar at the Yale University Law School, contributed the statistical analysis that formed the basis of the dissenters' arguments refuting the majority's conclusions.
Determined to question the legitimacy of George W. Bush's election as president, Miss Berry has relentlessly politicized her commission from the moment the Florida dispute arose. Without any evidence, the panel voted 6-2 in March approving a statement declaring that "voter disenfranchisement," enforced in part by at least one unauthorized police checkpoint, was at the heart of Florida's election problems. In June, a 198-page report devoid of any evidence was leaked in advance to liberal newspapers before Florida authorities were given the opportunity to respond to charges implicating them. The leak occurred several days before the deadline for a response that the commission had given Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, whose office was lambasted in the report.
Now the Berry gang has done everything in its power to suppress the 56-page dissent by Mrs. Thernstrom and Mr. Redenbaugh. Miss Berry's enforcers have made the preposterous claim that the dissent itself is illegal because Mr. Lott provided his services as an unpaid consultant, despite the fact that the commission has had a history of using unpaid consultants. Statutes, they assert with a benign regret that would have made Lenin blush, preclude them from complying with the dissenters' demand to disseminate their report. Earlier, the commission had refused repeated requests from the dissenters before a Senate hearing to provide them with the statistical analyses used to justify the majority's conclusions. And the commission also refused a request by a House oversight commission to explain how the majority's estimates were generated.
Mr. Lott's regression analysis took issue with the commission's conclusion that discrimination against minority voters was evident from the fact that counties and precincts with higher percentages of blacks had a higher percentage of non-voted ballots. Interestingly, Mr. Lott's gratis regression analysis found that "the link between the percent of voters who were black and non-voted ballots was stronger when the county election supervisor was a Democrat than a Republican." This fact effectively refutes any charge of intentional discrimination, Mr. Lott persuasively argues, because "it is not plausible that black Democratic election supervisors would consciously keep fellow blacks, who are also overwhelmingly Democrats, from voting."
No wonder Miss Berry has been so determined to quash the dissenting views on her commission.

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