December 4, 2004


Civil Rights Panel Changes May Cause Clash
: President Bush plans to replace the longtime and combative chairwoman, who says she'll go quietly. But many note that's not her style. (Johanna Neuman, December 4, 2004, LA Times)

President Bush plans to name a new chairman and vice chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission as early as Monday, a move that could end the tumultuous reign of its current chairwoman, Mary Frances Berry.

Berry, who has been a member of the commission for 24 of its 47 years, has been a bane to presidents who tried to fire her or dodge her. She has been targeted in repeated Government Accountability Office reports alleging mismanagement of the agency. She has been the butt of biting comments, such as Salon magazine's jab that she is "a vitriolic brawler."

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission, created by President Eisenhower in 1957, is charged with investigating complaints of racial discrimination. With a budget of $9 million and a staff of 70, it has no enforcement powers. But the agency's effect sometimes has been greater than its size.

After the 2000 elections, the commission's report on disenfranchised voters in Florida was one of the forces that propelled Congress to enact reforms, allowing voters whose eligibility was in question to cast provisional ballots. The White House, citing court precedents, says the terms of Berry and Vice Chairman Cruz Reynoso expire at midnight Sunday. But Berry says commission documents show that her appointment expires Jan. 21.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 4, 2004 8:56 AM

I like your headline for this post. Clever! More thoughts on Berry, and her mediocre writing,at
this link to my own blog.

Posted by: Patrick O'Hannigan at December 4, 2004 9:37 AM

Save the film of her screaming and kicking (as she leaves the office) for campaign ads in 2006 and 2008. But they may have to sedate her to get her out.

Her performance regarding Peter Kirsanow was a new low, even for Berry.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 4, 2004 9:45 AM

The 'Civil Rights Commission' has never served any valid purpose and should be disbanded.

Posted by: Bart at December 4, 2004 9:56 AM

What Bart said.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 4, 2004 2:46 PM