- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

The editor of a scholarly book on the Declaration of Independence says he is angry that the publisher barred him from dedicating it to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
"Clarence Thomas has been the leading voice on the Declaration of Independence in the 21st century, just as Martin Luther King was in the 20th century. I found it shocking when CQ Press told me I couldn't dedicate my book to Clarence Thomas," said Scott Douglas Gerber, a law professor at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.
Mr. Gerber's new book, "Declaration of Independence: Origins and Impact," was published by CQ Press, a division of Congressional Quarterly Inc.
"But the book is out without a dedication to Clarence Thomas. They had their way," Mr. Gerber said in an interview.
He said he suspects the dedication to Justice Thomas was rejected because of the justice's conservative views. Officials at CQ Press and Congressional Quarterly deny the accusation.
Mr. Gerber said the practice of having dedications to high court justices in scholarly books has been accepted by most publishers. He noted that Mark Tushnet, a law professor at Georgetown University, had dedicated two of his legal works which were not published by CQ Press to former liberal Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. "So why is CQ treating Justice Thomas this way? I think the answer is obvious," Mr. Gerber said.
But John A. Jenkins, general manager of CQ and senior vice president of Congressional Quarterly Inc., said the companies have an "inviolate policy" of "never ever permitting a book to be dedicated to a sitting member of government."
Robert Merry, president and publisher of Congressional Quarterly, said: "Our books will not be dedicated to anyone who calls into question our mission of nonpartisanship. That applies to the left and the right, to liberals and conservatives, and vegetarians."
Mr. Jenkins said Mr. Gerber told CQ Press he planned to dedicate his book to his grandparents when he signed the contract in early 2001. Mr. Jenkins said not until more than a year later did CQ officials learn from a third party that Mr. Gerber wanted the book dedicated to Justice Thomas.
Mr. Jenkins said Congressional Quarterly was founded in 1945 as a "nonpartisan, unbiased source of information about what happens in Congress and government."
"We are owned by a journalistic company [the St. Petersburg Times] that is fiercely independent and known for its unbiased reporting," he said. "We don't want a dedication in one of our books to raise in someone's mind that the narrative that follows will be from the viewpoint or perspective of the person to which it is dedicated.
"This is a matter of editorial integrity and neutrality," Mr. Jenkins said.
But Mr. Gerber disputed that claim: "He loses that argument. As a piece in the Legal Times pointed out, CQ Press has let forewords of books be written by [U.S. Chief Justice] William Rehnquist and [Supreme Court] Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg."
Mr. Gerber said he believes a foreword can reflect an ideological bent more than a dedication, but Mr. Jenkins disagrees.
"We will permit forewords to be written by [sitting government officials] if the person is commending the volume that follows and the message meets our requirements for objectivity," Mr. Jenkins said.
"If he needed to say something about Clarence Thomas, he could have said it in the foreword. We would have considered a foreword by Clarence Thomas," Mr. Jenkins added.
Mr. Jenkins said Mr. Gerber's book is a "compilation of a variety of articles by different authors" who wrote about the importance of the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Jenkins said he sent letters to all the contributors, explaining his decision to disallow the dedication to Justice Thomas.
"Some of the authors told us, 'Thank you for standing up for your principles,'" Mr. Jenkins said.
In a letter he sent to Mr. Gerber in July, Mr. Jenkins wrote: "Our answer to your request [to dedicate the book to Clarence Thomas] is clear and categorical. This reference work will not bear a dedication to Justice Thomas."
Mr. Gerber says CQ Press has given him more than one explanation for why it wouldn't allow the dedication. He cited a letter he received in June from Kathryn C. Suarez, director of reference publishing for CQ Press, who said dedicating the book to Justice Thomas would "jeopardize sales of the volume."
Mr. Jenkins said that was to remind Mr. Gerber that he signed a contract with CQ Press "to give us full rights to do what we must [to improve] form, content and marketability" of the book.


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