NAACP plans 5-day campaign to pressure Supreme Court 'Electronic protest' seeks more minority clerks

November 24, 1998|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

In another move to pressure U.S. Supreme Court justices to hire more minority law clerks, the NAACP is planning a five-day letter-writing, phone, fax and e-mail campaign in hopes the court's chief justice will meet with the civil rights organization on the issue.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has called on its 1,700 branches across the country to participate in the protest, which will begin Monday.

At issue is the NAACP's concern that minorities make up just 7 percent of the 428 law clerks hired since 1972 by the sitting justices. Three justices have never hired an African-American law clerk, and no Native Americans have ever been hired as clerks in the 200-year history of the court.

Clerks help justices research and write decisions. Critics question whether matters that affect minorities, including affirmative action and immigration policy, are handled fairly when the pool of clerks is nearly all white.

"This electronic protest is another step in the NAACP's efforts to dismantle the present unfair system of hiring Supreme Court law clerks," NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said in a prepared statement. "It is faulty and should be thrown out in favor of a process that promotes equality for all."

On Oct. 5, Mfume and 18 other activists were arrested when almost 1,000 protesters demonstrated on the front steps of the Supreme Court while attempting to deliver resumes of minority law school graduates to the justices. Each of the 19 people arrested pleaded guilty to unlawful entry of the Supreme Court grounds and paid a $50 fine. They were released that day.

Pub Date: 11/24/98

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