Washington, DC - In an assessment of the civil rights record of the Bush administration, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a draft report that concludes the administration has failed to exhibit leadership or define a clear focus, relegating civil rights to a low priority.
The report, Redefining Rights in America-The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2004, analyzes scores of policy reports, scholarly papers, briefs and executive orders to chart the administration's responses to a broad spectrum of civil rights issues. Similar criteria have guided evaluations of previous administrations, including the civil rights review on former President Clinton released in 2000.
Some highlights of the report include:
Voting Rights: The Bush administration did not provide leadership to ensure timely passage and swift implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. As a result, Congress did not appropriate funds for election reform until almost two years into the administration.
Equal Educational Opportunity: The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) does not sufficiently address unequal education, a major barrier to closing the achievement gap between minority and white students.
Affirmative Action: Instead of promoting affirmative action in federal contracting and education, the administration promotes "race neutral alternatives," in many instances not applicable and in others not overly effective at maintaining diversity.
Environmental Justice: EPA has taken few actions to ensure disparate impact of minority communities to environmental contamination.
Racial Profiling: The administration responded to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by instituting regulations that facilitate profiling rather than prevent it. Immigrants and visitors from Arab and Middle Eastern countries were subjected to increased scrutiny, including interviews, registration, and in some cases removal.