He Doesn't Deserve It

The Senate Judiciary Committee wants another week to gather information on William Bradford Reynolds, assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights, who is up for promotion to the third-ranking position at the Department of Justice.

It is hard to know what more information the committee needs to say no to his nomination. Its members knew when they started that during his four years as the top lawyer in federal civil-rights cases he has persistently fought protections against discrimination in employment, housing, voting rights and education. Now they know also that he plays tricks with the truth.

Reynolds testified two weeks ago in confirmation hearings that he had met with counsel on both sides in 11 voting-rights cases in Mississippi, and that lawyers representing black voters had advised that the government need not intervene. When challenged, he could name only one lawyer with whom he had met. That lawyer denied that he recommended against intervention.

Reynolds also testified that he met with lawyers who were fighting to have a gerrymandered voting district in New Orleans ruled illegal before he declared the district acceptable to his civil-rights division. His own logs of meetings and phone calls, which were subpoenaed, contradicted that testimony.

Regarding statements suggesting that he supported black voters in a Georgia case in 1982, when in fact he had opposed them in an internal memorandum that was written before his testimony, Reynolds apologized to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) for giving misleading answers to the senator's questions.

Despite his apology and corrections, members of the Judiciary Committee should make their decision based on his lack of candor and his willingness to base federal civil-rights enforcement on his own misinterpretations rather than respecting principles established by Congress and upheld by the courts. Reynolds merits no promotion.

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