- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2006

‘Get-tough winds’

“When the Senate voted by a stunning 83-16 in favor of a reinforced fence along the Mexico border [Wednesday], it showed that lawmakers are feeling get-tough winds blowing from the grass roots,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“Even 2008 presidential prospects like Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) voted for the 370-mile fence, and several Democrats who first voted no switched nervously to yes,” Miss Orin said.

” ‘Voters are very clear that they want the situation at the border addressed first,’ said independent pollster Scott Rasmussen, who’s found huge enforcement-first majorities in 33 states that he polled.

” ‘The real debate isn’t about what to do with the illegal aliens who are already here,’ Mr. Rasmussen said. ‘It’s about what to do to keep more from coming here.’

“The House has already voted for a 698-mile border fence, so any compromise bill ultimately worked out by the House and Senate will have to include a barrier.

Witness silenced

“Last month, I received an invitation to testify before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about affirmative action and diversity in U.S. companies,” Roger Clegg writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“The testimony was scheduled for [Wednesday], and I was asked to share my written statement to the commission beforehand, [May 11], which I did. Late [last] Friday afternoon I received a phone call from the commission, telling me that because of what I had to say, my invitation had been withdrawn by its chairman, Cari M. Dominguez,” said Mr. Clegg, who is president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity.

“I urged the commission to reconsider this decision because it would put the commission in general and the chairman in particular in a bad light. [Tuesday] I was notified that the entire meeting — not just my panel, but two others — has been ‘indefinitely postponed.’

“The problem is that my testimony told the unwelcome truths that (a) American companies, in their ‘celebration of diversity,’ frequently discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity and sex, (b) this violates the law, and (c) the EEOC is not doing anything about it. I was told that it would lead to a ‘mutiny’ among the career people at the commission if I was given a ‘platform’ to say such things. It might even turn the proceedings that morning into a ‘circus,’ and Ms. Dominguez, I was told, did not want the EEOC ‘to look like the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights back when Mary Frances Berry headed it.’

“The irony is that the effort to silence a witness because of his political incorrectness is exactly the sort of thing that Ms. Berry might have done. Actually, it’s worse. Ms. Berry, whatever her considerable shortcomings, actually did allow me to testify on more than one occasion.”

IRS pen pals

Several current and former Republican members of Congress sent letters to the Internal Revenue Service questioning whether the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had veered into political advocacy and asked for an investigation into the group’s tax-exempt status, according to documents released by the civil rights organization.

The IRS began looking into the Baltimore-based NAACP about a month before the 2004 presidential election after a speech by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond that was largely critical of President Bush’s policies.

Political campaigning is prohibited under the NAACP’s tax-exempt status. The IRS said that its inquiry would focus on whether Mr. Bond’s speech was too political, and that the investigation is among dozens into the activities of tax-exempt groups during the 2004 election season.

The NAACP received more than 500 pages of documents that the IRS has gathered to begin its inquiry. The group had made requests under the Freedom of Information Act and provided the documents to the Baltimore Sun.

The documents include letters that current and former members of Congress sent to the IRS on behalf of their constituents. The lawmakers include Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine, Rep. Jo Ann Davis of Virginia, the late Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and former Reps. Larry Combest of Texas and Joe Scarborough of Florida, the Associated Press reports. All are Republicans.

The NAACP has called the IRS audit a political smear campaign. Marcus Owens, an attorney for the NAACP, said the letters from Republican politicians raised questions about the motivation of the IRS probe.

Scalia’s remarks

Firing the latest round in a debate with his Supreme Court colleagues, Justice Antonin Scalia yesterday decried the use of foreign law in interpreting the U.S. Constitution on issues ranging from the death penalty to homosexual rights.

“I do believe that there’s a moral law … but I don’t believe that judges have been charged with deciding it,” Justice Scalia said at a public policy forum of the National Italian American Foundation held on Capitol Hill.

Justice Scalia criticized the court’s use of foreign law in a decision striking down a Texas statute that made homosexual sex a crime, a case in which he strongly dissented. In a ruling last year in which Justice Scalia also was in the minority, justices outlawed the death penalty for juvenile killers, citing, in part, international sentiment against it.

Judges around the world have come to think that they are charged with deciding “the most profound moral questions,” Justice Scalia said. “Should there be the death penalty? Should there be a right to abortion? Should homosexual conduct be proscribed?”

“If you believe that, of course you are going to cite the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, because those guys wear robes just as you do,” Justice Scalia said. “And, therefore, they also have been charged with determining the most profound moral questions of mankind.”

Justice Scalia made his remarks to an audience that included Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the court’s newest member, and about a dozen members of Congress, the Associated Press reports.

Numbers game

Pennsylvania Republicans voted in greater number for gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann than for Sen. Rick Santorum in Tuesday’s primary, results that raise a red flag for the Pennsylvania incumbent.

Both candidates were unopposed. Mr. Swann, a former Pittsburgh Steelers star, received 574,276 votes, while Mr. Santorum, who is seeking a third term, drew 552,559, according to unofficial totals compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of State that were 99 percent complete yesterday.

In the Nov. 7 general election, Mr. Swann will face Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell; Mr. Santorum is running against state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr.

Virginia Davis, a Santorum campaign spokeswoman, said using Mr. Swann’s totals to gauge Mr. Santorum’s support is “not comparing apples to apples,” the Associated Press reports.

“The dynamics are different,” she said. “You cannot compare the governor’s race to the Senate race.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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