Thursday, October 19, 1989
The Michigan Daily,
Wbe £irbigau ;&i
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. C, No. 32 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessqrily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
By Sharon P. Holland
This afternoon, the infamous U.S.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist
will be visiting the University. Sponsored
by the Federalist Society of the Law
School - the same group who brought
former Attorney General Ed Meese to
campus - Rehnquist is scheduled to re-
ceive an honorary award. The subject of
his speech is not known, and apparently is
being kept a secret on purpose, in order to
catch students by surprise.
Since Rehnquist's appointment, the lib-
eral sector of the Court has been weakened
ion of the court, ruled by quoting a case
from 1940: "it is a principle of general
application in anglo-American jurispru-
dence that one is not bound by a judgment
in personam or in a litigation in which he
is not designated as a party or to which he
has not been made a party by the service
of process." This is just one example of
the conservative majority Court's tendency
to use outdated language embedded in eth-
nocentrism to decide a case.
Rehnquist, in writing for the majority,
argued that white firefighters had not been
allowed their "day in court" because they
were not party to consent decrees made be-
TODAY, UNITED States Chief Justice
William Rehnquist will be on campus.
It is the job of the University commu-
nity to let him know that he is not wel-
Rehnquist's achievements on the
bench are well known. A Nixon ap-
pointee, he spent the 1970s in the
Court's conservative minority, honing
arguments against a government's re-
sponsibility to its citizens in a series of
dissenting opinions. His majority
views have applied age-old states'
rights and libertarian notions - but
selectively: against the racially and eco-
nomically oppressed and in favor of
big business. His Court has rolled back
affirmative action and rejected compa-
rable worth statutes, refused to hear
anti-trust cases brought against the air-
lines and allowed states to make homo-
sexual sex illegal.
Rehnquist is no great legal mind. He
is a cynical manipulator of legal
thought in the service of the far right.
He is a politician who has a terrifying
amount of control over the lives of
This is a rare opportunity to confront
him, and the press he will bring in tow,
with tangible popular dissent.
Today, at 3:30 at the Law Quad's
State Street Entrance, unwelcome
He does not need the University's
support. At a time when violence
against women and people of color is
markedly on the rise, when economic
disparity is growing, and when race
and sex discrimination in hiring is be-
coming standard practice, we do not
need to provide a platform for the man
who makes it all possible.
His presence here cannot be ignored.
Like Jeane Kirkpatrick, George Bush,
and Ed Meese, like CIA and FBI re-
cruiters, Rehnquist represents the
powers-that-be who have all too much
say, and all the space they want to say
Rehnquist's supporters will raise the
banner of free speech. This is painfully
ironic in the case of someone who
thinks civil rights need no guarantor,
and insincere, when the University
continues to work to silence minority
'Since Rehnquist's appointment, the liberal sector of the Court
has been weakened to the point of non-existence. Rehnquist's
conservative block has managed to attack and reduce the legal
rights of women, people of color, lesbians and gay men.'
42 U.S.C. §1981 because that statute
specifically dealt with racial discrimination
in the making of a contract, and not the
actions of either party after such a contract
was made. They also held that the burden
of proof lay in Patterson's hands; in other
words, they held that she had to prove that
she was better qualified than her white
counterpart in order to bring suit. The
conservative block of the Court, led by
Justice Kennedy, upheld the lower court's
decision. Although the language of §1981
extends to cover post-formation conduct
that shows that the contract was not made
on equal terms, the majority chose to nar-
row this definition of § 1981. The opinion
By reading X1981 not as a general prod
scription of racial discrimination in all
aspects of contract relations, but as lim-
ited to enumerated rights within its ex-
press protection, specifically the right tp.
make and enforce contracts, we may pre-
serve the integrity of Title VII's proce-
dures without sacrificing any significant
coverage of civil rights laws.
The logic of the majority is devastat-
ingly narrow and potentially destructive. If-
the Court chooses to put on blinders to all
actions made after a contact is settled that
violate the grounds of that contract, then
freedom from racial discrimination and'
sexual harassment at the workplace is all'
but gone for people of color and women iA d
The prevailing mentality of Rehnquist's
majority in the Court is not to overrule,
but slyly to squeeze all the life out of civil'
and reproductive rights statutes. He and his
court want to return people of color and.
women to the turn of the century - and
they are fast succeeding. Another tactic of
the conservative sector of the Court is to
continue to make use of the language of
old statutes, which is mostly racist, sexist
and heterosexist, to justify its decisions.
Repeatedly, they fail to make connections.
Duderstadt ignores demandsfori
lesbian and gavmale rights:
Respond to LaGROC
DURING LAST week's coming out
celebration the Lesbian and Gay Rights
Organizing Committee (LaGROC) pre-
sented the University president with a
series of demands concerning Univer-
sity policy and the rights of lesbians
and gay men. Despite the openness of
the action by LaGROC, the President
has chosen not to respond, positively
LaGROC is demanding:
-A change in Bylaw 14.02 to include
lesbians and gay men in the Univer-
sity's anti-discrimination statement.
-Regular courses in lesbian and gay
men's studies, eventually leading to the
formation of a department of Lesbian
and Gay Men's Culture.
-A mandatory course on racism, in-
cluding the study of heterosexism.
-Improve the University's collection
of lesbian and gay men's literature.
-A lesbian and gay men's cultural
center or public space.
-New University housing policies to
include lesbian and gay couples.
-Including "sexual orientation" in the
goals of the Michigan Mandate
-An openly gay member on the AIDS
-October 11 each year as University
Coming Out Day.
Why not respond? The list of de-
mands is long and involved; some of
them are more immediately possible
than others, but they are all easily un-
derstood. Surely Duderstadt could have
announced which of the demands he
was willing to implement immediately,
which would require further study,
which he was unwilling to consider,
and so on, including a timetable and
appropriate designations to his admin-
istration. And yet, true to his tradition,
he has remained silent.
Perhaps, like so many others, Dud-
erstadt is uncomfortable publicly dis-
cussing issues pertaining to sexual
preference. Perhaps, like so many
others, he would rather ignore the
presence of lesbians and gay men than
confront the history of oppression this
society has inflicted on its lesbian and
gay members. Perhaps, like so many
others, he hides behind a facade of in-
difference in the hope that the outspo-
ken members of the lesbian and gay
community will grow tired of protest-
ing for their rights.
But LaGROC has set an example of
the kind outspoken activity and con-
frontation which will not go away until
society comes to terms with its op-
pression of lesbians and gay men. The
issue will remain a public one, the his-
tory will constantly confront us, the fa-
cade will inevitably collapse to reveal
the true nature of the leaders who deny
Duderstadt's failure to offer even a
public recognition of the demands un-
derscores the need for their implemen-
tation. Recognizing and confronting the
rights of lesbians and gay men must
remain a central concern if the Univer-
sity is to transcend the rhetoric of di-
versity and become an equitable insti-
tution. The responsibility to initiate this
process at an institutional level remains
on the shoulders of the administration,
and its president James Duderstadt.
The University awaits his response.
to the point of non-existence. Rehnquist's
conservative block has managed to attack
and reduce the legal rights of women, peo-
ple of color, lesbians and gay men.
One of the Court's most memorable rul-
ings of this summer was Webster v. Re-
productive Services, a case which put
drastic restrictions on a woman's right to
choose, and narrowed the language of Roe
v. Wade so as to make it basically impos-
sible for poor women in this country to
get an abortion.
Before the Webster decision, the Court
severely curtailed Native American land
rights, narrowed the terms of what consti-
tutes racial discrimination in the work
place and affirmed the ridiculous concept
of reverse discrimination. The Court's
most devasting decisions this summer cen-
tered around attacks on Civil Rights and
Affirmative Action legislation.
Martin v. Wilkes:
Black firefighters and a branch of the
National association for the Advancement
of Colored People (NAACP) brought ac-
tions in Federal District Court against the
City of Birmingham, Alabama and the Jef-
ferson County Personnel Board, charging
that the Board had used racially discrimina-
tory hiring and promotion practices in vio-
lation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964. White firefighters also brought
suit against the Board and the City claim-
ing that they were being discriminated
against because of their race in favor of
hiring less qualified Blacks, in violation of
federal law. The District Court dismissed
the case, and the Court of Appeals upheld'
the white firefighter's right to petition for
Rehnquist, delivering the majority opin-
tween the Board, the City, and the Black
firefighters. Because they were not there,
they could make a case for reverse discrim-
ination. Basically, the Court said that
people of color have to have white peo-
ple's permission to establish and enforce
tougher affirmative action standards.
Justice Stevens, inthe dissenting opin-
ion of the Court, noted that "the City of
Birmingham, in entering into and comply-
ing with this decree, has made a substan-
tial step toward the eradication of the long
history of pervasive racial discrimination
that has plagued its fire department." He
also pointed out that the "white respon-
dents in this case are not responsible for
the history of discrimination, but they are
nonetheless beneficiaries of the discrimina-
tory practices that the litigation was de-
signed to correct." In other words, the dis-
senting opinion points to the ludicracy of
white firefighters' claims that they are
damaged by a civil rights statute that ul-
timately benefits them.
Patterson v. McLean Credit Union:
Brenda Patterson, a black woman, was
employed for ten years at the above credit
union until she was laid off. She claimed
in both her statements to the District
Court and the Supreme Court that her su-
pervisor periodically stared at her for sev-
eral minutes at a time; that he gave her
too many tasks, causing her to complain
that she was under too much pressure; that
among the tasks given her were sweeping
and dusting, jobs not given to white em-
ployees. On one occasion, she testified
that her supervisor told her that blacks are
known to work slower than whites. She
also observed that her supervisor criticized
her in staff meetings while not similarly
criticizing white employees.
The District Court stated that a claim of
racial harassment was not actionable under
The failure of the conservative majority-
of the Supreme Court to link struggles:
and to make connections cannot be our.
failure also. The struggle for the issues:
and concerns of poor women, people of
color, lesbians and gay men are connected
to issues of right to choose and affirmative
action. If we couldn't see that before Web-
ster, we must see that now. We should:
remember that if Roe v. Wade is gone forO
one of us, if civil rights statute §1981 is:
fading, if Native Americans have lost ma-:
jor strongholds on self-determination, then'
these "civil liberties" are lost to us all.
Sharon Holland is an Opinion page as-
BAKER- Brown bag discussion
CENTER Women In the Intifadah
TODAY AT noon, the Ella Baker-Nelson Mandela Center for Anti-Racist Educa-
tion will hold the first of its brown bag discussion series for the year. Today's
discussion will be on Palestinian Women and the Intifadah, and will focus on the
ways women have participated in and shaped the direction of the popular upris-
ing in the West Bank and Gaza.
Described by many as the "backbone of the intifadah," women in Palestine
have organized in opposition to the Israeli occupation of their land since the start
of the intifadah nearly two years ago. Women's committees have been responsi-
ble for some of the most successful and important aspects of the intifadah, like
the distribution of food under times of curfew and the formation of agricultural
committees which have made the continual boycotts of Israeli products possible.
Any interested members of the community are invited to come out for an in-
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