……Reports in Review……


Losing out in Higher Ed

Charting the Future of College Affirmative Action - Legal Victories, Continued Attacks, and New Research

By Gary Orfield, et.al. The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, Los Angeles, Calif., 2007. http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/affirmativeaction/fullreport_charting_aa.php

The Civil Rights Project, a well-respected education research center headed by Gary Orfield, which recently moved from Harvard to UCLA, has produced this important anthology of papers about the current state of affirmative action in higher education.

Although these articles, a compendium of a 2005 roundtable, are of primary interest to legal scholars and university administrators, portions of this report are eye-opening for anyone who wants information about conservative attacks on education. While the most recent Supreme Court decisions about college-level affirmative action, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, appear to support affirmative action, organized opposition remains strong, backed by the Bush administration.

Opponents of affirmative action in admissions and financial aid are firmly in charge at the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Meanwhile organizations such as the American Civil Rights Institute and the Center for Equal Opportunity filed 10 formal letters of complaint asking OCR to investigate potential illegal uses of race-exclusive or race-conscious standards in pre-college programs. These groups also contacted over 50 colleges directly and suggested that the schools might be subject to an OCR investigation unless such programs stopped. Thanks to their bullying, between 1995-2005, 71 programs were changed or discontinued due to these threats and the Department of Education's anti-affirmative action stance.

Blacks and Latinos have lost access to higher education, especially at leading law schools, as this report documents. Between 1994-2004, law school matriculation rates for Blacks and Latinos decreased 6 percent and 7 percent, respectively. The rates for Asian Americans increased 45%, while the rate for whites decreased by 1%. But the fight is not over. "Colleges and state policy makers have much more discretion than they are led to believe by those trying to roll back civil rights policy," states the report. The university community may fig ure out ways to maintain higher education access for underrepresented students if it heeds the words of this report's authors.

Other Reports in Review

Prejudice Against Muslims Runs High

The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States 2007: Presumption of Guilt

By Arsalan Iftikhar, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Washington, D.C., 2007. http://www.cair.com/Portals/0/pdf/2007-Civil-Rights-Report.pdf

The 2007 Civil Rights Report from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reveals some troubling data. The War on Terror has unsurprisingly contributed to escalating levels of intolerance towards Muslims. An August 2006 USA Today poll showed that nearly two in five Americans admitted to holding prejudicial views, and at least 20% said they would not want American Muslims as neighbors.

In each of the past three years, Muslim civil rights complaints to CAIR have grown, with a 25 percent increase between 2005 and 2006 to a total of 2467 cases. While it is unclear whether this is due to an increase in violations or better outreach and awareness, the figures are still sobering. Hate crimes comprise less than 10% of the complaints. Fully one-third of the complaints related to an encounter with the government, primarily on legal and immigration issues.

CAIR recommends "prejudice reduction" techniques such as creating opportunities for interaction with ordinary American Muslims, but its most wide-ranging recommendation is to decrease Islamophobia, a by-product of international events, by enacting domestic and foreign policies that respect the human dignity of all people.

Purging MinorityVoters

Caging Democracy: A 50-Year History of Partisan Challenges to Minority Voters

By Teresa James, Project Vote, Washington, D.C., September 2007

In the name of combating voter fraud, the Republican Party has successfully purged the voting rolls of minority voters it presumes will pull a lever for a Democrat. Some of its techniques date back to Reconstruction efforts to purge new black voters from the rolls, but the RNC first used "caging" during 1964 campaigns in key cities.

A "caging list" is created by sending mail that cannot be forwarded to registered voters; its return is a signal that the party can challenge the voter's eligibility. In 2004, the RNC used the technique with a vengeance after using it in a few states in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Republicans targeted more than half a million voters in 2004, challenging the eligibility of 77,000 voters from 2004 to 2006. Party workers stand at the polls and directly challenge the right of someone to vote, creating chaos.

Republicans prepared for this effort by lobbying key swing states to make it easier for private individuals to issue a challenge - in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Minnesota specifically outlawed the practice, and Washington and Minnesota made it harder for private individuals to challenge a voter's eligibility. Monica Goodling, the Justice Department White House liaison, told Congress that a former interim U.S. Attorney in Arkansas was involved in caging operations in that state.

Democrats vigorously fight caging in the courts as a form of voter intimidation, and the RNC - though not state parties - are banned from the practice under a consent decree in a New Jersey case. Voters in Ohio unsuccessfully tried to get the courts to enforce the decree in 2004 since the national party was involved in caging there. In the future, the author suggests, partisan challengers at polls should be banned, replaced by "observers" from each party. Any partisan challenges should include evidence, not just based on forwarded mail, and be made 30 days before the election.

Populism or Nativism?

Nativism in the House: A Report on the House Immigration Reform Caucus

Building Democracy Initiative, Center for New Community, Washington, DC, September 2007

Despite its title, this report regrettably doesn't spend much time establishing the nativism of the members of the House Immigration Reform Caucus. It begins by quoting its founder, Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, "…if we don't control immigration, legal and illegal, we will eventually reach the point where it won't be what kind of a nation we are, balkanized or united, we will have to face the fact that we are no longer a nation at all." We learn generally that caucus members oppose amnesty, want to beef up border enforcement, reduce the number of legal immigrants, and supported HR 4437, promoted by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, which would have criminalized those helping an undocumented immigrant, and turned the undocumented into felons.

The report's value, instead, is in offering voting report cards on the caucuses 102 Republican and eight Democratic members, and tracking who is funding their campaigns. More than half of its members come from the south; most of their districts had small percentages of Latino residents, and were on average 30% rural and 25% blue collar. Despite their often populist arguments to cut immigration to save jobs, the researchers determined that caucus members have dismal voting records on labor rights. Most of their campaign funding comes from free trade supporters and other typical Republican donors, with small amounts coming from five political action committees linked to such groups as the Minuteman and Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Winter 2007
Vol. 22, No. 4 :

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