Bradley Attacks Effort to Modify City Job Quotas
The Justice Department’s effort to modify affirmative-action hiring plans in cities across the nation, including Los Angeles, is “foolish” and “counterproductive,” Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley said Wednesday.
In his strongest public condemnation of the effort, Bradley said that any modification of hiring plans “will result in expensive, time-consuming litigation and will reopen old wounds that have long healed.”
Bradley’s remarks were made in written testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which wound up hearings Wednesday on the nomination of Assistant Atty. Gen. William Bradford Reynolds as associate attorney general, the third-highest post in the Justice Department.
Chief Opponent of Quotas
The Reagan Administration has argued that the affirmative-action plans--in the form of consent decrees that include race and sex quotas--were voided last year when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the seniority rights of white firefighters facing layoffs in Memphis, Tenn., under affirmative action.
Reynolds, as the Administration’s chief opponent of hiring quotas, oversaw the attempt to modify hiring consent decrees in 51 jurisdictions but acted “without any persuasive legal support,” Bradley charged. He added that Los Angeles has “no intention whatsoever” of changing agreements to increase hiring and promotion of minorities and women in the police and fire departments.
Since the Administration earlier this year asked the 51 jurisdictions to overturn affirmative-action programs, many city officials have spoken out against the effort. But until his statement to the committee, Bradley--while defending the city’s agreement--had done so less strongly than others.
The mayor’s tough criticism of Reynolds moved him closer to civil rights advocates in Congress and across the nation, who used the two days of hearings to denounce the Administration’s civil rights policies in general and the effort to reverse the consent decrees in particular.
Testifying Wednesday at the hearing, Rep. Mickey Leland (D-Tex.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said that Reynolds “has tenaciously refused to enforce civil rights laws with which he personally disagrees and has zealously sought to cripple or nullify those laws by judicial and administrative action. This is not a record to be proud of or rewarded.”
Benjamin L. Hooks, executive director of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, said that Reynolds has attempted “to reshape the (affirmative-action) law for the ideological and political purposes of the Administration.”
Bradley said that while “critical civil rights laws cry out to be enforced,” Reynolds is “devoting the scarce resources of the Justice Department to undoing lawful and voluntary consent decrees that are working perfectly with the support of all parties. No act could be more foolish or more counterproductive.”
During his 1 1/2 days of testimony, Reynolds answered scathing criticism dispassionately, his voice often barely rising above a whisper.