- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 9, 2001

It is no mystery why Mary Frances Berry, the pugnacious chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is so ferociously opposing President Bush's efforts to appoint Peter Kirsanow to the eight-member commission. For years, the civil-rights panel has had a decidedly Democratic edge. Miss Berry has aggressively exploited that edge to pursue her own agenda, which has been dominated for years by a belief in both racial victimhood and pervasive anti-minority bigotry. Recently, the panel has had six commissioners who lean Democratic and two who lean Republican. Mr. Kirsanow's appointment would have split the panel 5-3. The forthcoming appointment of Republican-leaning Jennifer Cabranes Braceras would have produced an evenly divided panel. Miss Berry knew that she would no longer be able to so easily use the commission as she sees fit.
Thus, Miss Berry felt compelled to block the appointment of Mr. Kirsanow, whom the White House named to replace the Democratic-leaning Victoria Wilson. Bill Clinton appointed Miss Wilson in January 2000 to complete the term of Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., who died in 1998. Judge Higginbotham's term was to expire Nov. 29, 2001. As reporters Bill Sammon and Steve Miller of The Washington Times have verified, even the Clinton administration's paperwork confirmed that Miss White was only to serve through the end of Judge Higginbotham's term. That is also the view of the Justice Department's legal counsel. Not surprisingly, however, it is not the view of Miss Berry. Although Mr. Kirsanow was duly sworn in at the White House on Thursday, Miss Berry and her colleagues refused to have him seated or to recognize him as a member of the commission at the panel's meeting on Friday. In effect, Miss Berry kept her promise to ignore Mr. Kirsanow unless she was forced to seat him by federal marshals, who, regrettably, did not attend the meeting.
Beyond the dissolution of her partisan majority, Miss Berry had another reason to oppose Mr. Kirsanow, who is a former chairman of the largely conservative Center for New Black Leadership (CNBL). In utter contrast to Miss Berry's obsession with racism, the mission statement of the CNBL declares that it "takes exception to a civic order in which past victimization is made the currency of a near-permanent black identity of protest and entitlement." CNBL also believes, contrary to Miss Berry, that "[t]rue equality can only be earned by the effort of individuals in the open competition of a free society." Compare this with Miss Berry's misguided belief, as expressed in a book she co-authored. "Blacks shared so many of the economic goals of Communists that many of them" including no doubt herself "might be described as fellow travelers," Miss Berry wrote in 1982. In stark contrast to the agenda of Miss Berry, the CNBL "believes that strong families, education, respect for excellence, initiative and individual responsibility are the principles and virtues that will stand blacks well" in the open competition of a free society. Is there really any wonder why Miss Berry would attempt to silence such thoughts?
At the next meeting of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, sending in federal marshals may well be the only way to enforce the rule of law inside Miss Berry's fiefdom.

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