Is hiring by race to achieve the right statistics the same as hiring by quota?

Liberals who favor the revived Kennedy-Hawkins racial quota bill - now known as the Civil Rights Act of 1991 - pretend that it isn't. That's the root of their claim that the bill's quota label is a "red herring."The bill seeks to reverse a set of 1989 Supreme Court decisions. In particular, it wants to overturn Wards Cove Packing Co. vs. Atonio that limited a 1971 decision, Griggs vs. Duke Power, which allowed employers to be held liable for discrimination for having the wrong racial statistics, even in the absence of intentionally discriminatory practices.

Lawsuits based on mere statistics are called "disparate impact suits," and they have been the means by which sleazy plaintiffs' lawyers and uninjured parties have been allowed to rob company treasuries.

As Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in 1975, the costs of defending a disparate impact suit often "leave the employer little choice . . . but to engage in a subjective quota system of employment selection." This, Blackmun said, "is far from the intent of" the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Nevertheless, apologists for the new racial privileges erroneously say Griggs did not lead to racial quotas.

John Dunne, assistant attorney general for civil rights, recently went to Capitol Hill to prove to a House committee that Griggs did lead to quotas. He cited a newspaper article in which the governor of Maryland admitted hiring by race in order to avoid being sued. He also quoted a survey of Fortune 500 CEOs in which 18 percent flatly admitted having specific quotas and another 54 percent used the euphemism, "goals." Only 14 percent of the CEOs claimed to hire on merit and talent alone.

Dunne also described how one fire chief hired firefighters: "Each time he had to hire someone, he would look at the race of the last person hired. If he had hired a black yesterday, he hired a white today. If it was a white yesterday, then a black would be chosen today."

If the revived Kennedy-Hawkins bill is not a quota bill, what is its purpose? Why is it trying to overturn Supreme Court rulings against quotas?

Civil Rights Commissioner Mary Frances Berry let the real truth out of the bag when she said "civil rights laws were not passed to give civil rights protections to all Americans." Deriding Supreme Court rulings in favor of equal civil rights, Berry said, "The clear message is that they oppose the implementation of plans for women and minorities if it works to the disadvantage of some white male."

Liberals don't like the fact that the Supreme Court has recognized that civil rights laws give civil rights protections to all Americans, including white males.

Midge Decter notes in the March 1991 issue of Commentary magazine that "the proposition at the heart of late-20th-century American liberalism is that when it comes to rights, some individuals and groups are more `equal' than others."

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, he said that "it does not give special treatment to any citizen." Congress made the same unequivocal declaration.

However, "civil rights advocates" have worked overtime to try to make the promise of equal rights a mockery.