ACLU maintains neutrality on Thomas nomination

August 19, 1991|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union has voted to remain neutral on the nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

On Saturday, a motion to oppose the nomination was approved by 36-25, one vote short of the 60 percent majority required under the organization's guidelines to take a position.

The vote "is not in any way an endorsement" of Mr. Thomas, said Colleen O'Connor, national public education director of the organization.

Ira Glasser, the ACLU's executive director, said that the organization "virtually never takes positions on candidates" for the Supreme Court, having done so only twice previously. "In this case, the vote was not a vote about Thomas but about whether to depart from our normal practice of not taking a position," he said.

Mr. Glasser was among those who argued against taking a position on Mr. Thomas at what participants described as a "lively" four-hour meeting among the 61 members of the 83-member board present at the organization's fall meeting.

Mr. Glasser said the organization's guidelines on endorsements were intended to narrowly apply to a candidate who had expressed an explicit judicial theory that would alter the role of the Supreme Court and the role of the Bill of Rights in the judicial system.

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