President Carter told Colston A. Lewis, a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, that his term was up this week, but Lewis said yesterday he won't leave his $50,000-a-year job and spacious suite of offices for another 60 days.
Lewis, a lawyer from Richmond, Va., who was appointed to the commission by Richard M. Nixon, called a news conference to say he will take the administration to court if he is locked out of his offices over the July 4 weekend.
Charging that "George Wallace did more for blacks than Jimmy Carter has," Lewis said he thinks the President is guilty of racial bias in his appointments. he said that race, not money, is the reason behind his intended "sit-in."
Lewis, a Republican who has served on the commission since being appointed by Nixon to fill an unexpired term in 1970, claims that under statutes he is entitled to remain in office and draw a salary for 60 more days, since no nomination or appointment of a successor has been made.
Spokesmen for the president say differently.
"As far as we're concerned the matter is closed." Margaret Mckenna, deputy counsel to the President, said.
Associate Counsel Doug Huron said, "It's fair to say we are confident of the President's legal authority to do what he did.
"It's my contention that I'm being illegally dispossessed." Lewis told reporters. "I know in part it's happened because I'm black."
"Without being boastful, I want to say I don't need a job . . . but what am I supposed to do, just tuck my tail and run back to Virginia?"
Lewis said he feels sure the administration will not appoint a black member to the commission in his place. Elenor Norton, a black, was confirmed as chairman earlier this year.
"I have nothing against Eleanor," said Lewis in reply to questions about rumors that he was not reappointed for another five year term because of tension between himself and the chairman.
"I'm occupying the Republican black slot here," Lewis said, brandishing a letter of recommendation from Republican Virginia Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr.
According to a commission spokesman, however, the EEOC does not operate in such a way that Lewis would represent a specific ethnic group.
Currently the panel includes a black woman, a white woman and a white man, as well as two vacancies, if one takes the view that Lewis' slot is now vacant.
While Lewis impugned the White House for its "guerilla tactics" in dismissing him, saying "they don't know what the hell they're doing over there," boxes in his outer offices were quietly being packed. His staff will be reassigned within the EEOC on Tuesday.
Lewis, however, vows he "isn't bluffing. I haven't even taken the pictures off the wall . . . if they change the lock on my door so I can't get in Tuesday, I'm going to court."