Precinct 333

Monday, December 06, 2004

Ding! Dong! The Witch Is Dead!

Or at least out of a job.

President Bush on Monday moved to replace Mary Frances Berry, the outspoken chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission who has argued with every president since Jimmy Carter appointed her to the panel a quarter century ago.

The only problem is that she is refusing to leave, despite the fact that her term is over. The matter was settled in court proceedings over her refusal to seat a Bush appointee to an expired term, arguing that the incumbent was entitled to a full term, not just the remainder of her predecessor's, when appointed to finish the term of a deceased member. She wants to hold the job for six more years, since Clinton delayed her appointment until January 21, 1999, to prevent a GOP successor from filling the spot in his first term. But the vacancy began on December 5, 1998, meaning that Berry's term expired over the weekend.

Also replaced was Vice Chairman Cruz Reynoso.

The newly named commissioners are Gerald A. Reynolds, former assistant secretary for the office of civil rights in the Education Department, and attorney Ashley L. Taylor of Richmond, Va. Bush intends to designate Reynolds the commission chairman, succeeding Berry, and to name Abigail Thernstrom, already a commission member, as vice chairperson.

Good job, Mr. President. Now prosecute these miscreants if they attempt to collect a single minute of extra pay.


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