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Bush Civil Rights Appointee Unanimously Wins Appeal
Newsmax ^ | Friday May 10 | Jeff Johnson

Posted on 05/10/2002 8:43:18 AM PDT by Michael.SF.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Court of Appeals has unanimously ruled that President Bush's nominee to a disputed seat on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is the legitimate holder of that seat.

At issue is whether Victoria Wilson, who was appointed by then-President Bill Clinton to complete the term of Judge A. Leon Higginbotham on Jan. 13, 2000, or Peter Kirsanow, who was appointed by President Bush to a new six-year term, was the legitimate holder of the position.

As previously reported, a Justice Department attorney told the three-judge panel that Congress did not intend to eliminate staggered terms when it rewrote the law authorizing the commission in 1994.

"There is nothing in the legislative history to indicate that they attributed any significance to the rewriting, and there is affirmative evidence that they thought they weren't changing anything," said DOJ lawyer Greg Katsas.

The court agreed, reversing U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler's Feb. 4 opinion in favor of Wilson.

"Congress did not disrupt the staggering of terms of Commission members created in the 1983 Act," Judge David B. Sentelle wrote in the court's unanimous opinion. "Because we agree with appellants that Wilson's term had expired, we reverse the District Court."

"We hold that Wilson was appointed by President Clinton only to fill the unexpired term of Judge Higginbotham, as her commission indicates, and her service as a Commissioner terminated on November 29, 2001," Sentelle continued in the opinion.

"As a result, Kirsanow, having been validly appointed to a vacant seat on the Commission on December 6, 2001, for a term expiring November 29, 2007, and having taken the oath of office, is a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights," he added.

Kirsanow tells that he is "pleased, but not surprised."

"Obviously, I'm very happy," he said, "and I'm grateful for the president's confidence and the administration's unqualified support."

Kirsanow says the ruling does not surprise him, in part, because of the "outstanding job" done by Justice Department attorneys presenting the case.

"My attorneys and the Justice Department have been saying from the outset that the law is pretty clear in this matter and that it supports our position," he explained.

Mary Frances Berry in Trouble

Sentelle also noted in the opinion that the actions taken by commission Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry and Vice Chairman Cruz Reynoso to intervene on behalf of Wilson may have been contrary to law, as was claimed by the Justice Department.

"The United States [government] objected that neither the Commission nor its officers in their official capacity have the right to appear in litigation without the permission of the Attorney General, which they had not obtained," he observed.

Sentelle referenced 28 United States Code 516, which states, "Except as otherwise authorized by law, the conduct of litigation in which the United States, an agency, or officer thereof is a party, or is interested, and securing evidence therefore, is reserved to officers of the Department of Justice, under the direction of the Attorney General."

Kessler permitted the intervention in the original case. However, the appeals court did not rule on the issue, Sentelle wrote, because the government did not raise it as part of the appeal.

In fact, the Justice Department acknowledged that the involvement of Berry and Reynoso had, "no practical effect upon the issues presented, since Wilson herself is entitled to defend against the government's complaint."

Calls to the USCCR's office requesting comment on the decision had not been returned prior to the publication of this story.

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bushappointee; civilrights; maryfrancisberry
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To: rwfromkansas
Does anyone know the Dem-GOP makeup of the commission now...I seem to recall that being one of the reasons the Dems were fighting so hard on this.

That's where it gets interesting again. Bush's pick would have made the panel 4-4 liberal-conservative (though not 4-4 dem-rep since two or three of the libs are "independants"). In the interim, however, one of the repulicans' terms has ended and the replacement is to be selected by the congress. "Tradition" says that this pick belongs to the Republicans who would probably re-appoint the same guy, but the power sits with Daschle who could ignore "longstanding tradition" and pick whoever he wants (including the woman who was just booted).

21 posted on 05/10/2002 12:04:44 PM PDT by IMRight
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To: albee
According to the Civil Rights Commission website, "Mary Frances Berry became Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on November 19, 1993. An Independent [Bwahahahaha], she was reappointed to the Commission by the President in January 1999."

That means her term is up in 2005. Since there is no chance in hell that Bush will reappoint her, the RATs will probably reappoint her to one of their slots.

22 posted on 05/10/2002 12:05:48 PM PDT by Bubba_Leroy
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To: albee
Berry was reappointed by Clinton in Jan. 1999 to another six year term.
The Commissioners serve 6-year terms. No Senate confirmation is required. The President may remove a member of the Commission only for neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.

23 posted on 05/10/2002 12:08:08 PM PDT by deport
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To: Mind-numbed Robot
Very Good News Indeed. Now the Big Question!!! Just when will V. Wilson be asked to vacate her seat and let Bush appointee step into the position????
24 posted on 05/10/2002 12:22:19 PM PDT by Deltaforceeoo7
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To: Bubba_Leroy;deport
Berry was appointed by Clinton in Nov. or Dec. of 1998. Since her first offical meeting was in the last week of Jan. in 1999, she claims her term expires a week after Bush's first term in office ends on Jan. 20, 2005.

Her term ends Dec.2004. If Bush losses his re-election, she plans to use this lie to be reappointed by his successor.

25 posted on 05/10/2002 12:41:08 PM PDT by ao98
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To: Deltaforceeoo7
The meeting will be 9:30 AM, next Friday May 17th. If will be interesting.
26 posted on 05/10/2002 12:43:30 PM PDT by ao98
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To: rwfromkansas
4 (aligned with GOP)- 4 (aligned with DEMS).
27 posted on 05/10/2002 1:22:45 PM PDT by Catie
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To: Catie
Currently there are only seven members with the court decision it works out as three republicans, three democrats and of course Ms. Berry the independent. Now what will happen with the eight member which is up for nomination by the Congress (Senate) is anyones guess. It's the Repubs turn based upon alternating nominations, but nothing is in writing so we'll see what Daschle chooses to do.
28 posted on 05/10/2002 2:04:08 PM PDT by deport
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To: ao98
It will be interesting should President Bush get the opportunity to make her replacement nomination. The PLUMBOOK has her term expiring 1/21/05 along with Crus Reynoso, Vice Chair. So the next two appoints after the pending Congressional Appt will not come until then....
29 posted on 05/10/2002 2:20:56 PM PDT by deport
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To: Michael.SF.
Do we know when their next meeting is? I would love to be on a ping list if you manage to find an article about how the new changes in membership are coming along.
30 posted on 05/10/2002 3:13:35 PM PDT by BunnySlippers
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To: BunnySlippers
May 17, 2002..... Here is the web site with all kinds of info... click on About Us -- Upper left and it has bios of each commissioner.
31 posted on 05/10/2002 3:18:24 PM PDT by deport
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To: deport
It took me awhile to find it, but here is a Thread dealing with Berry changing her termination date. This is the important paragraph.

Miss Berry's incompetent reign is technically scheduled to terminate Dec. 5, 2004. That means President Bush will have the power to replace her before the end of her first term. Miss Berry, imitating the old Soviet politburo machinations that so obviously intrigue her, has attempted to finagle an expiration date of Jan. 21, 2005, which would put her out of Mr. Bush's reach in the event a Democrat succeeds him in 2005. One of the best things Mr. Bush could do to improve long-term race relations is to let the race-baiting Miss Berry know that her attempted subterfuge will not stand. The sooner he lets her know to have her bags packed by Dec. 5, 2004, the sooner she can begin her inevitable cries of racism.

32 posted on 05/10/2002 4:11:02 PM PDT by ao98
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To: ao98
Thanks... She's fiesty and will fight to keep her position I'm sure. The key to changing the makeup of the Commission is retaining the Presidency and at least one branch of the congress.... That's what happened during the Reagan/Bush1 years where the Republicans had six appointees at one point on the Commission. During the Clinton years things began to reverse back to the democrats control.....
33 posted on 05/10/2002 5:50:58 PM PDT by deport
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