Time for an Omnibus Civil Rights Bill

Report Civil Society

Time for an Omnibus Civil Rights Bill

April 30, 1991 23 min read Download Report
Kenneth Conboy
(Archived document, may contain errors)

827 TIlME FOR AN OMNIBUS CIVIL RIGHTS BILL INTRODUCI'ION hricau civil rights policy .is at a crossroads. For the fitst time in many years, there is a clear choice between two starkly different visions of civil rights: one would extend an d strengthen the same race-based policies that have failed to help the most disadvantaged Americans; the other would seek to give these disadvantaged Americans a greater degree of control over their own destinies These two visions &e reflected in proposal s Currently before Congress.The race-based approach is contained in a House bill (H.R. 1) introduced by Rep resentative Jack Brooks, theTexas Democrat; a Senate version has not yet been introduced.The Brooks bill is a slightly modified version of the civil rights bill sponsored in the last session of Congress by Senator Edward Ken nedy of Massachusetts, and then-Representative Augustus Hawkins of California, both Democrats.The Kennedy-Hawkins bill passed both houses of Congress, and was vetoed by George Bus h.The Senate sustained Bush's veto by one vote, and no effort to override the veto was made in the House of Representatives.

The White House alternately opposed and sought to aocommmodate the Ken nedy approach last year, finally vetoing the legislation. By contrast, the Ad ministration this year has taken the initiative, introducing a "civil rights and individual opportunities" legislative package which combines greater civil rights protections with empowerment measures designed to expand economic opportun ities for lower income Americans and to give them greater control over their own lives.

THE CHA The Administration's proposals are a first step in shifting the terms of the debate over civil rights issues, away from divisive and counterproductive so cial e ngineering schemes and toward efforts to eliminate barriers to oppor tunity. They reflect the first attempt by a Republican administration to do something more in the civil rights area than merely to oppose or imitate liberal civil rights proposals. By li n king with the concept of civil rights moreover, such empowerment approaches as allowing parents to choose the public schools their children will attend, or permitting public housing tenants to manage their own projects, the Bush Administration is making a n impor tant contribution to the debate over how best to enable disadvantaged Americans to improve their situation More Commitment. The trouble is that while the White House links em powerment to civil rights, it has done so only rhetorically and sparingly at that. For such a civil rights strategy to succeed, it will require far greater leadership and commitment than the Administration has given it to date. One problem is that the Administration so far has not pursued the empowerment strategy aggressively i n key congressional votes. Another problem is that the Administration has balked at consolidating its entire package into one om nibus bill, to prevent congressional committees sidelining the empowerment proposals, and forcing the White House to debate civ il rights entirely within the context of the revamped Kennedy bill Still a third problem is that the Ad ministration is hesitant to strengthen the empowerment provisions of its pack age and to make these provisions the centerpiece of its initiative.

The ch anging political dynamics on civil rights issues appear to favor a bold new approach. By pursuing an aggressive strategy linking civil rights and in dividual empowerment, the Bush Administration could turn the flank of those lawmakers who evidently wish t o see de facto quotas in America, and more important, who apparently do not care that recent civil rights measures have failed to improve the lives of many minorities and other disadvantaged Americans. George Bush now has the chance to prove that he can do far more for disadvantaged Americans than those who long have claimed to be their advocates iJGED DYNAMICS OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS DEBATE Much has changed since Kennedy early last year intrqduced a bill to over turn a series of 1989 Supreme Court civil rights rulings. First, the Kennedy bill failed to attract veto-proof support in Congress: though the bill passed, it received fewer votes in each house than nearly any other major civil rights bill in the past decade 1 The impact of these rulings is summamed in C lint Bolick The Supreme court and Civil Rights: A Challenge for George Bush Heritage Foundation Buc&pm&r No. 728, September 28,1989 2 Second, the specific provisions of the Kennedy bill turned out to be its un doing. Though some of these provisions were u n remarkable (such as expand ing the time within which individuals may challenge discriminatory seniority systems other provisions clearly would have promoted racial quotas. The bill's most controversial provision would have made it virtually impossible for companies to defend their personnel practices against discrimination claims based solely on different statistical hiring rates for different groups? This provision would have created a strong incentive for employers to avoid costly litigation by adopting d efacto, though not official, quota systems Quota Approach. By creating a legal presumption that all differences in group outcomes are attributable to discrimination, the Kennedy bill thereby ignored other major problems that are experienced disproportiona t ely by low income minorities, such as inferior educational opportunities, welfare de- pendency, and crime.The bill's quota approach, in fact, flew in the face of findings by both liberal and conservative scholars in recent years that quotas and other form s of racial preferences primarily benefit relatively apantaged members of minority groups and do little to aid the disadvantaged. These flaws led a number of liberal writers and publications, including The Nau Republic and The Christian Science Monitor, to oppose a civil rights bill for the first time ever.

Third, supporters of the Kennedy bill misjudged the strong opposition among Americans to racial quotas. When Bush announced the principles be hind his stance on civil rights at a Rose Garden ceremony las t summer, he said he would sign a civil rights bill only if it met three standards: it must neither require nor encourage quotas; it must not violate the fundamental due process principle that the accused is presumed innocent until provenguil ty; and it m u st not be so complex as to create a bonanza for 1awyers.The Ken nedy bill flunked all three standards. Still, the White House, apparently want ing to sign a civil rights bill at almost any cost, signalled its willingness to over look Kennedy's failure to satisfy two of the standards. Only when Kennedy 2 This provision of the bill would have overturned the Supreme Court's decision in Wards Cove Packing Co. v.

Aronio, 109 S.Ct. 2115 (1989 which allows plaintiffs to challenge employment practices on the basis of statistics, but requires plaintiffs to prove that such practices are truly dkaiminatory in that they do not serve a legitimate business justi6cation. In such cases, plaintiffs do not have to demonstrate an intent by employers to discriminate, but mere l y that the practice challenged (such as tests or a high school diploma requirement produces different hiring rates for different groups. The Kennedy bill would have placed the burden on the employer to prove himself innocent of discnrmna tion, and, moreov e r, to show that his practices were not merely tory, but actually necessary to the performance of the job an almost impossible desirable or non-dscnmma standard to meet.The Kennedy bill also would have overturned Martin v. wilks, 109 S.Ct. 2180 (1989 which would have the effed of closing the courthouse doors to many victims of discrimination by limiting challenges to consent decrees" that contain quotas. Although the bill states that its provisions are not intended to encourage quotas, its proponents consis t ently have rejected language prohibiting quotas 3 See, for example,Wh Julius Wilson, llhe Tmly Dkudvmfuged (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1987 3 held out for language that could lead only to quotas did the frenzied negotia tions between the White H ouse and Kennedy collapse.Then last fall Bush vetoed the bill and the veto was sustained; the bill's supporters threatened retaliation at the polls in November.

The election results demonstrated, however, the shallowness of the bill's appeal and the extent of public opposition to quotas. Republicans who sup ported Bush's veto and made quotas an issue such as Senator Pete Wilson in his successful race for Governor of California, and Senator Jesse Helms in his successful re-election bid in North Carolina used the issue to significant advantage.

At the same time, a post-election survey and series of focus groups spon sored by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights , an umbrella group of ap proximately 200 organizations, revealed that while mainstream Americans favor efforts to expand opportunities for the less fortunate, they strongly op pose racial preferences. Americans also believe that quotas pervade American s ociety!

And fourth, there has been a marked increase in grass roots support for em powerment initiatives, such as parental choice in education and tenant owner ship of public housing as a means to improve the lives of minorities; these in itiatives provide an alternative to the means enshrined in the Kennedy-Haw kins bill. One Republican who has benefited from his enthusiastic support for empowerment is Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, who won re-elec tion last November as the first GOP candidate sinc e 1946 to carry urban Mil waukee County. Thompson did so because of his support for such empower ment legislation in Wisconsin as the Milwaukee school voucher program for low income families Changing Liberals. These developments have helped create a politi cal climate receptive to new thinking on civil rights. Both conservatives and liberals appear to be re-casting their traditional approaches to civil rights?

The change on the liberal side is seen in the columns of William Raspberry who is black. Raspberry supported the Kennedy bill, but last month urged Democrats to forget about the bill and move on to more important concerns.

Argues Raspberry The problems most critically affecting black America are the joblessness and despair of our young people, the acad emic indifference of our children, the dissolution of our families, the destruction (by crime and drug trafficking) of our neighborhoods, the economic marginality of our 4 Thomas B. Edsall Rights Drive Said to Lose Underpu Washington Post, March 9,1991, p . A6 5 See Jim Sleeper Moving Beyond Race to a Common Agenw Woshingtm Post, March 19,1991, p. A19 4 people. And the Civil Rights Act of 91 wont do a blessed thing about these problems.

Even worse, Raspberry warns, H.R. 1 threatens to divide America along r acial lines, just when white America stands ready to support racial programs and policies it believes to be fair. Raspberry calls for end[ing production of the old model of civil rights legislation exemplified by the Kennedy bill, and replacing it with a n ew model whose chief marketing points would be its orientation toward solutions as opposed to blame-assign ment) and its unambiguous fairness.b CIVIL RIGHTS AND EMP0WERMENT:THE CASE FOR LINKAGE Empowerment is not a new idea. Neighborhood activists such as Robert Woodson, president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and political leaders such as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp, for years have pioneered efforts to reduce barriers that separate low-income individuals from the opportunities available to other Americans.

The new dim nsion in the discussion is the linkage between empowerment and civil rights. Critics of an empowerment-based civil rights strategy pre dictably contend that civil rights and empowerment are separate concepts.

These critics argue that Congress should pass civil rights legislation (that is the new version of the Kennedy bill) first, and later consider empowerment proposals.8 Two-Century Struggle. But empowerment is not a logical next step after quotas and other forms of social engineering; empowerment is an alternative to such ill-conceived schemes. Viewed in historical context, empowerment is a logical third and final stage in Americas two-century struggle for civil rights: the first stage was the abo lition of slavery; the second was the legal guarantee of equal opportunity; and the third now is the elimination of bar riers that prevent some Americans from controlling their own destinies.

In contrast to quotas, which focus on collective rights and atte mpt to com pel equality of outcomes, empowerment emphasizes individual rights and equal opportunities. An empowerment-based civil rights strategy assumes that discrimination is not the only serious obstacle to opportunity afflicting 7 6 William Raspberry, Why Civil Rights Isnt Sew Washhgton Post, March 13,1991 7 A legislative strategy comb* cid rights and individual empowerment was proposed by Clint Bolick and Mark Liedl in Fulfiuing Americas Pro& A Civil Rights Strategy for the 1990% Heritage Foundation B a ckgmundm No. ?73, June 7,1990 8 This suggestion rings hollow considering the opposition of many within the ad rights lobby to such empowerment proposals as parental choice in education, repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act, funding for the Homeownership and Oppo r tunity for People Everywhere (HOPE) proposal enterprise zones, and anti-crime proposals 5 disadvantaged members of minority groups today. Empowerment thus con sists of strategies designed to eliminate these obstacles. Conversely, H.R. 1 ig nores or glosse s over these problems and presumes they will be solved by ra cial quotas.

A civil rights strategy based on empowerment thus offers a comprehensive solution to the problems of disadvantaged Americans. It would strengthen civil rights protections without emb racing quotas. At the same time, however it would increase access to quality education, provide economic incentives and other opportunities to escape poverty, and provide greater protection from crime. To do anything less, or to substitute quotas for the e limination of barriers to opportunity, is to compromise the promise of civil rights for all Americans I THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND EMPOWERMENT The Bush Administration has championed or endorsed a number of em powerment initiatives, such as tenant managem e nt and ownership of public housing, enterprise zones, and anti-crime legislation. Bush linked civil rights and empowerment for the first time in his Rose Garden civil rights speech last summer, declaring that empowerment, rather than quotas, should form t he cornerstone of future civil rights policies.The Administration, however then spent the remainder of the year either negotiating over or opposing the Kennedy bill, and did not present a comprehensive alternativeapproach.

Positive Alternative. When the ve to of the Kennedy bill was sustained by one vote in the Senate, the Administration decided it needed to craft a posi tive alternative to it. News reports and off-the-record comments by Ad ministration officials suggested that a civil rights and empowermen t strategy would play a prominent role in the Presidents domestic policy agenda in 1991 Bush unveiled his civil rights and individual opportunities package on February 27.The package includes expanded civil rights protections and em powerment measures in t h e areas of education, economic opportunities home ownership, welfare reform, and crime. However, the overall package was not presented as an omnibus bill; instead, each of its components is, or will be, introduced as a separate bill.The President emphasiz e d that the com mon theme of these proposals is to expand opportunity and choice for all.9 Bushs announcement marked a potential turning point in civil rights policy by breaking from policies that have focused for decades on redistribution rather than the e xpansion of opportunities 9 Remarks of the President in Announcement of Opportunity Adion Plan to Civic and Charitable Organizations, Washington, D.C February 27,1991 6 The trouble with the Bush announcement is that his welcome and creative package has re m ained just rhetoric The White House has offered little in the way of leadership or commitment since Bushs announcement. By not offer ing the package as an omnibus bill, the President runs the risk that the em powerment elements in his proposal will langui sh in committee while the legislative battle is fought in terms of H.R.l.

Worse still, empowerment advocates who worked closely with the Ad ministration are puzzled and disappointed by the lack of action to promote its bold new strategy. With the exception of an aggressive education reform agen da championed by new Education Secretary Lamar Alexander an agenda that includes empowerment of low-income parents through choice of public or private schools -the Administration has done little to take the offensiv e.

The White House in fact acts in a manner to suggest that it will place no political muscle behind and spend no political capital on the empowerment agenda. Indeed, White House actions suggest a lack of commitment.

Example: The term empowerment itself mysteriously has been stricken from the approved White House lexicon for speeches by the President.

Example: No linkage with civil rights was made when the President intro duced his anti-crime bill.

Example: Jack Kemp, the most experienced and effective empowerment proponent in the Administration, has not been assigned a significant role in promoting the legislative package.

Example: The Administration has made no effort to sell its empowerment strategy where it can do the most good and where it can win new support -in the inner cities.

Example: When Kemp urged Congress to earmark funds in the fiscal 1991 budget to launch his HOPE program, he received no political support from the White HoustoAnd when Congress rejecte d the Kemp request, Bush remained silent Example: When Congress blocked the Labor Departments efforts to issue new rules under the Davis-Bacon Act, to permit more helpers in govern ment-funded construction projects which would have opened up many job oppo r tunities for young inner-city minorities the White House could have rigorously condemned empowerment opponents in Congress, but did not do Thus, once again, the Bush Administration is in danger of allowing the op so position to dictate the terms of the de bate on a vital domestic policy issue.

While the Administration spins its wheels, the forces behind the new Ken 10 Carl F. Horowitz Why Kemps HOPE Program Should Be Funded, Issue BuIIefin No. 162, March 151991 7 nedy bill are gaining ground. If the Adminis tration fails to take the offensive on civil rights and empowerment, it may wind up fumbling away the chance to offer real hope and tangible opportunities to disadvantaged Americans WHAT THE ADMINISTRATION SHOULD DO The Presidents civil rights and individ u al opportunities package covers a range of issues under the general headings of civil rights protection and em powerment. In each area the Administration has made a credible start, iden tifying and reducing barriers that separate disadvantaged individuals from op portunities. But in addition to demonstrating strong political support for the package, it should strengthen the empowerment provisions in the package.

Even more important than the substance of any particular provision, how ever, is the imperative that the President establish vocally and aggressively the clear link between civil rights and empowerment. He should state une quivocally and frequently that protection from crime is a civil right; that freedom to pursue entrepeneurial or professional op p ortunities free from ex cessive government interference is a civil right; and that the opportunity of parents to choose where their children shall be educated is a civil right.The White House also should combine such empowerment initiatives with strengthe n ed provisions to reduce actual discrimination by employers in a single omnibus bill a reality. The President should go to Americas inner cities and present his vision directly to the people. He should challenge leaders of both parties to join in giving lo w -income people tangible opportunities. He should challenge mainstream Americans to extend to more disadvantaged individuals the op portunities that are essential to upward mobility. If he does these things, he can revitalize a noble quest for civil rights that for a generation has been drift ing off course them Tangible Opportunities. Bush can take steps to make this civil rights vision In addition, he should mod

his package in several key areas. Among I 1) Civil rights protections.

The White House has p roposed several changes to strengthen existing civil rights laws, specifically in a bill sponsored on behalf of the Administration by minority leaders Robert Dole of Kansas, in the Senate (S.611) and Robert Michel, of Illinois, in the House (H.1375).

One troublesome aspect of this bill, however, is its provision to modify the Supreme Courts Wards Cove decision. Yet no modification is necessary since Wards Cove created a level playing field in which plaintiffs can still win 8 valid discrimination challenge s , but employers can successfully defend prac tices that are not discriminatory.ll The Administration bill thus makes mat ters worse by tilting the playing field. The Bush bill would do this by placing on the employer the burden of proving its practices ar e justified by business necessity. Although the Administration bill defines this term in a less onerous fashion than does H.R.l, this provision would make it difficult for the bill to satisfy the Presidents own Rose Garden standard that the legisla tion mu st not lead in practice to quotas.The Administration should defend vigorously the Wards Cove decision, not undermine it the way the Dole Michel bill does.

Other aspects of the Administration bill are very reasonable. For instance the bill would allow reasonable monetary damages to victims of on-the-job ra cial or sexual harassment, for whom existing remedies often are inadequate.

The Administration also would allow arbitration as an alternative to litigation in employment discrimination cases, thereby redu cing the costs to both par ties and providing speedier justice to victims of discrimination. It also would extend protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to congressional employees ending the current double standard under which Congress exempts itself from laws to which it subjects the rest of the country.

How the Administration should strengthen its package. The administra tion should propose to re-define affirmative action as the term is used in federal regulations, contracts, consent decrees, and other official documents.

Most Americans now assume affirmative action means racial preference. In deed, it often has come to mean this in practice. Originally, however, affirm ative action was a legitimate strategy to give disadvantaged individuals the tools necessary to compete o n an equal basis. This original meaning should be restored. It would lead to such actions as basic skills training, literacy training transportation of inner-city workers to suburban jobs, apprenticeships, and ex panded recruitment in short, a range of st eps designed to increase the pool of employable disadvantaged individuals.12 The original advocates of affirm ative action did not conceive it as a racial preference scheme, and such preferences do nothing to help individuals overcome real disadvantages.

T he Administration similarly should propose a streamlining of all federal civil rights laws and regulations. Laws passed at different times covering over lapping subjects, and regulations imposed by the many agencies charged with enforcing civil rights law s have created confusion among those seeking to abide by the law and those who seek to assert their rights under the laws. A comprehensive effort to harmonize federal civil rights laws and to make their enforcement more efficient and effective is long over due 11 See Bolick, op. cit 12 See Clint Bolick and Susan Nestleroth, Oppomcnity 2000: Ctearive Afimative Action Sbute

es for a changing Wowoxe (Washington: U.S. Department of Labor, 1987 9 2) Empowerment: parental choice in education.

The most devastating barrier to opportunity in the inner city is the public school system. Because it has a virtual monopoly on schooling of low-income youngsters who cannot afford to go elsewhere, public schooling often con signs such youngsters to inferior education in cri me-ridden environments.

Education choice programs in Milwaukee, NewYork Citys East Harlem and other areas for the first time give parents the op ortunity to select high quality educational opportunities for their childreng Parental choice also forces publi c schools to compete for low-income youngsters and the funds they bring with them, creating a strong incentive for improvement. Probably more than any other single initiative, parental choice in education could help disadvantaged Americans gain the tools necessary to escape poverty.

To give low-income parents a chance to send their children to better schools, the White House plans to introduce an Educational Excellence Act, which will offer funds to school districts to develop and introduce choice programs . This proposal would expand the benefits of choice that today are available only in a few cities.

How the Administration should strengthen its package. Rather than the carrot of increased funding, which is the inducement for introducing choice favored by the White House, the Administration should instead wield the stick of withholding funding. It should propose that any school district failing to offer quality educational opportunities to disadvantaged youngsters must as a condition of receiving federal education funds introduce choice programs for such youngsters. The Administration also should propose that parental choice rather than forced busing should be the preferred remedy in school desegregation cases 3) Empowerment: economic opportunities.

In rec ent years, the movement of jobs to the suburbs, government regula tions, rising taxation, and other factors have reduced the number of tradition al entry-level jobs in the inner city, thus effectively cutting off the bottom rungs of the economic 1adder.To stimulate job creation in the inner city, the Bush Administration has supported the Enterprise Zone Jobs Creation Act of 19

91. This bill (H.R U introduced by Representative Charles Rangel the NewYork Democrat, would direct the Secretary of Housing and Ur ban Development to designate fifty economically depressed areas as enterprise zones. This designation would spur investment and jobs in the zones by eliminating capital gains taxes on new business investments, providing other tax incentives for business d e velopment, and reducing taxes on low-income workers. By removing such burdens, jobs would return to places where l3 See Clint Bolick, A Primer on Choice in Education: Part I How Choice Works, Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 760, March 21,1990 10 peop l e need them the most. Giving young and unskilled inner-city residents steady jobs, regular paychecks, and inculcating good work habits wodd help solve serious problems ignored by the old-line approach to civil rights tions imposed at every level of govern m ent particularly by states and cities prevent low-income individuals from starting businesses or entering oc cupations for which they are qualified.14 Laws regulating entry into profes sions from hairstyling.to plumbing limits on the number of taxicabs an d gar bage collectors, union wage requirements placed on government contracts by the federal Davis-Bacon Act, and similar state laws set arbitrary restrictions on entrepreneurial and employment opportunities. Such restrictions burden especially those curre ntly outside the economic mainstream. These Americans are disproportionately minorities and the poor.

Bush should restore the civil rights guarantee of economic liberty one of the most basic rights secured by post-Civil War legislation but left un protecte d by the courts. He could do this by proposing an Economic Liberty Act.This bill would require governments to justify the limits they place on economic opportunities by demonstrating that such limits are reasonably necessary to protect a valid public heal t h, safety, or welfare objective. The Ad ministration also should support efforts to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act.This legislation was passed explicitly to reduce competition for government funded construction jobs fr m black and Hispanic workers, and it con tinues to have that impact today How the Administration should strengthen the package. Economic regula l 4) Empowerment: emancipation from dependency.

The current welfare system contains perverse incentives that lead to broken families and long-term depend ency. The result is that those trapped in the cycle of poverty have few avenues of escape. One reason for this is that only a fraction of the funds intended to help the poor actually reach the poor with the welfare bureaucracy taking the rest to provide h e lp that actually encourages dependency.16 Worse still, the incentives of the system dis courage work and contribute to the collapse of families by granting more as sistance to households headed by single mothers than to poor but intact families 14 See Cli n t Bolick, Unfinished Business: A Civil Rights Smgy forAmericas mimi Century (San Francisco Pacific Research Institute, 1990 pp. 47-91 l5See Scott Hodge, Congress vs. Minorities: The New Davis-Bacon Rules, Heritage Foundation Erecurive Mernomdum No. 299, A pril 9,19

91. See also, Scott Hodge, Davis-Bacon: Racist Then, Racist Now, The Wall S&et Journal, June U, 1990 16 See Stuart M. Butler, Welfare, in Charles Heatherly and Burton Yale Pines, eds Mandate for Leadership ZZZ (Washington: The Heritage Foundation , 1989 pp. 265x7 11 The empowerment approach would reform the welfare system in several key ways. It would, whenever possible, replace welfare bureaucracies with ser vice organizations composed of the poor themselves, so that their interests would be bett e r served. It would give the poor greater control over their own lives, through such things as parental choice in education. And it would foster the economic independence of the poor by eliminating the incentives in the welfare system that discourage work.

The Bush Administration, building on the foundation of the Reagan Ad ministration, has proposed such an empowerment approach to welfare reform. For example, the Administration has emphasized resident manage ment and ownership of public housing as an essen tial solution in helping poor people escape poverty by strengthening community institutions and fostering self-improvement. Pilot "urban homesteading" programs in Washington D.C St. Louis, and elsewhere have demonstrated the benefits of giving low income p eople greater control over their housing. Where they exercise this control, crime drops, property values climb, and welfare dependency decrease Resident Management. The Bush Administration last year won congres sional approval for its HOPE (Homeownership a nd Opportunity for People Everywhere) program, which gives funds to resident management corpora tions and other entities to allow public housing tenants to gain ownership of their homes. The Administration this year proposf# an acceleration of fund ing fo r HOPE, but that was rejected by Congress.

The Administration also is proposing the "Community Opportunity Act of 1991 This would give local communities greater flexibility to tailor federal welfare benefits to the needs of the beneficiaries, by making it easier to ob tain exemptions from governme n t rules that currently thwart welfare reforms proposed by states. Freedom from bureaucratic regulations can result in a much more innovative and effective welfare system vested interest in preserving their powers by resisting the empowerment of the.poor.T h e Administration thus should propose a statutory right to resi dent management and ownership of public housing, setting forth the precise conditions for management and ownership and sharply limiting the ability of public housing officials to frustrate the s e objectives. Unnecessary regulations hampering resident management and ownership, such as restrictions on evic tions of tenants who persistently violate rules and Davis-Bacon wage require ments for resident employees, should be eliminated How the Adminis tration should strengthen its package. Bureaucrats have a 17 See John Scanlon People Power h the Projects: HowTenant Management Can Save Public Houshg,"

Heritage Foundation Backgmmder No. 758, March 8,1990 18 Carl F. Horowitz "Why Kemp's HOPE Program Should Be Fund* Issue Bulletin No. 162, March 12,1991.

See also Jack Kemp Democrats' DoubleTalk on Affordable Ho- Wrrshington Pmf, April 11,1991, p. A21 12 The Administration also should press for far more sweeping reforms in the welfare system. It should prop ose legislation to tighten work requirements for those receiving welfare, and legislation to reduce taxes on very low-in come working families. These measures would reduce the powerful disincen tive to leave welfare and join the workforce. The Administrat ion too should propose far more generous exemptions from federal rules for major state sponsored welfare reform proposals 5) Empowerment: hedom tkom crime.

The most basic civil right is personal security, and the most important duty of a government is to p rotect its citizens from crime. Yet freedom from crime is the least-protected civil right, particularly for those who live in poor, inner city neighborhoods. Crime destroys schools, job opportunities, property, and lives.lg The Presidents anti-crime bill ( S. 635 introduced by Senator StromThur mond, the South Carolina Republican, would strengthen law enforcement in several ways. It would extend the federal death penalty to several additional crimes. It would reform habeas corpus procedures, which today lea d to seem ingly endless death penalty appeals that clog the criminal justice system. It also would modi

the exclusionary rule, under which crime evidence is sup pressed because police erred in obtaining it. This rule as currently applied often allows conf essed criminals to go free. In sum, the White House proposals would increase the odds of bringing criminals to justice.

How the Administration should strengthen its package. Recognizing the devastating effect of crime in the inner city, the Administration should spon sor legislation to protect victims rights in federal cases, and to encourage states to adopt uniform standards for victims rights. Prosecutors should be re quired to take the victims interests into account in the criminal justice process, in s uch areas as sentencing, parole, and plea bargaining, and to secure restitution for loss of life or property.The right of Americans to be free from crime should be accorded the same importance as societys inter ests and the rights of criminal defendants i n the criminal justice process CONCLUSION The obsession of the established civil rights lobby with enactment of a bill that will lead inevitably to racial quotas, threatens to turn civil rights into a zero-sum game in which one Americans gain is necessaril y another Americans 1oss.This is not necessary. It is possible to pursue a civil rights strategy in which everyone wins. Such a civil rights strategy is based on em 19 See Carl F. Horowik, An Empowerment Strategy for Eliminating Neighborhood Crime, Heritag e Foundation Backpunder No. 814, March 5,1991 13 powerment and provides a welcome alternative to the racially divisive fea tures of H.R.l As such, the Bush Administrations civil rights and individual opportunities package is the first step of a promising n e w strategy designed not only to better ensure equality of opportunity, but to assist those who are excluded from such opportunities paign to explain to Americans that empowerment and civil rights are linked closely together. He must give legislative form t o that link by combining his empowerment proposals with his antidiscrimination proposals in an omnibus civil rights bill. He must give strong White House support to his Cabinet secretaries when they seek legislation on Capitol Hill to empower Americans. A n d he must continue to declare his adamant opposition to any measure that will in practice lead to racial quotas in employment. Strong public opinion and sound public policy have converged to create an unprece dented opportunity. This Administration has th e chance to enter history as the administration that finally made good on Americas promise of oppor tunity for all Americans.The Administrations decision can determine in large part whether the most disadvantaged members of society are allowed to participa t e fully and equally in the American Dream, or if America will be come a land of competing racial groups vying for legal advantage Now Bush must go beyond the first step. He must mount an aggressive cam Prepared forme Heritage Foundation by Clint Bolick Cl int Bolick is director of the Landmark Center for Civil Rights, in Washington, D.C and author of Unfinished Business: A Civil Ri#k Sm forAme&as ThM Cenhuy (San Frandsco: Pacific Research Institute, 1990 14


Kenneth Conboy