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July 06, 1990 - Image 86

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-07-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I NEWS

Jewish Reaction Mixed
On Minority Decision

DAVID FRIEDMAN

Special to The Jewish News

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86

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T

wo Jewish organiza-
tions had different
reactions to a land-
mark affirmative action rul-
ing issued by the Supreme
Court last week.
In a 5-4 decision announc-
ed June 27, the high court
upheld the constitutionality
of two Federal Communica-
tions Commission policies
aimed at increasing the rep-
resentation of minority
broadcasters on the air
waves.
The case, Metro Broad-
casting Inc. vs. Federal
Communications Commis-
sion, involved two FCC poli-
cies that give minority
broadcasters special pre-
ferences in obtaining FCC
licenses. One of those poli-
cies allows a broadcaster
who is about to lose a license
to sell it to a minority appli-
cant at a reduced price.
Justice William Brennan,
who wrote the court's deci-
sion, ruled that the FCC pol-
icies do not violate the equal-
protection clause of the 14th
Amendment, since they are
in line with "longstanding
congressional support" for
achieving "the important
governmental objective of
broadcast diversity."
The Anti-Defamation
League of B'nai B'rith ex-
pressed disappointment with
the decision. In a "friend-of-
the-court" brief filed jointly
with the conservative Moun-
tain States Legal Founda-
tion, ADL had argued that
the FCC policies are un-
constitutional, since they
give preferences to certain
races.
ADL maintained that pro-
gram diversity is not a
"compelling" interest to
justify using racial pre-
ferences. "Program diversity
could best be achieved by a
freely operating
marketplace," the ADL brief
said.
But in a brief filed with
several other groups, the
American Jewish Com-
mittee argued that the FCC
practices only consider
minority status to be a "plus
factor" or "enhancement" in
the awarding of contracts.
The policies do not guar-
antee a minority applicant
will receive a license, it said.
AJCommittee's president,
Sholom Comay, praised the
Supreme Court for having
"acknowledged that the U.S.

Congress has authority to
utilize this 'benign race-
conscious' measure in order
to seek increased diversity of
voices and viewpoints on the
airwaves."
This policy does exclude
anyone from applying for a
license, since "minority
ownership and management
is but one factor in a complex
multi-factor proceeding," he
pointed out.
Despite their differences in
this affirmative action case,
both ADL and AJCommittee
are supporting the Civil
Rights Act of 1990, now
before Congress. The legisla-
tion strengthens protection
against discrimination on
the basis of race or sex that
was weakened by five
Supreme Court decisions in
1989.
Jill Kahn, ADL's associate
director of legal affairs, said
there is no contradiction in

The legislation
strengthens
protection against
discrimination on
the basis of race
or sex.

ADL's position in the FCC
case and its support of the
civil rights legislation.
"The civil rights law pro-
tects victims of discrimina-
tion, but does not promote
preferential treatment," she
said.
Kahn said the FCC poli-
cies provide preferences in
obtaining broadcast licenses
on the broad basis of skin
color, not because the ap-
plicants have been discrim-
inated against.
The Senate is expected to
act on the civil rights bill
when it comes back from its
July 4 recess. The House of
Representatives is waiting
for Senate action before it
moves on the bill.
President Bush has
threatened to veto the bill
unless there are changes
made to guarantee that it
would not result in quotas.
ADL, AJCommittee and
other Jewish groups have
supported the bill, believing
that it will not result in
quotas. But one Jewish
group, Agudath Israel of
America, has argued that
the bill could lead employers
to impose quotas on their
own to protect themselves
from legal challenges to
their hiring policies. 111

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