The U.S. Civil Rights Commission charged yesterday that eight restrictive "riders" attached piecemeal to money bills now before Congress would virtually repeal the major federal civil rights laws of the 1960s and 1970s and paralyze civil rights enforcement by the federal government.
Chairman Arthur S. Flemming said the eight amendments to appropriations bills, already approved by the House and now awaiting Senate action, would "undercut the whole civil rights movement in America."
One rider, passed by Congress in each of the last several years and now up for renewal, already bars the government from cutting off education funds to force a school district to adopt a busing plan for desegregation. But at least, Flemming said, the Justice Department has been able to go to court to seek busing plans.
The new amendments, he said, would bar court action as well as fund cutoffs, thereby making it impossible for the government to move against school segregation at all if busing was part of the necessary remedy.
Flemming said other riders would stop imposition of affirmative action plans in firms doing work for the government, bar use of numerical goals to spur minority and women's participation in higher education and athletics, cripple programs to aid non-English-speaking students and prevent the government from moving against alll-white private schools set up to avoid public school integration.
The commission called on the Senate to reject the amendments during the post-election session of Congress, and Flemming said he would urge President Carter to consider vetoing the money bills if the legislative riders are not removed.
In addition to urging defeat of the eight riders, the commission called on Congress to pass the housing antidiscrimination bill that would give the Department of Housing and Urban Development new enforcement powers to move against bias in the sale and rental of housing, the Youth Act of 1980 that would aid in skill-training and basic education of minority youth and the Domestic Violence Act that helps states curb wife-beating and other forms of domestic abuse.
The commission said the eight riders are as follows:
An amendment by Rep. Robert Walker (R-Pa.) to the money bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, barring use of federal funds to reforce ratios, quotas or other numerical requirements in employment or admission polticies or practices.Flemming said this could impede federal programs to spur minority employment and to help more women to jobs in universities.
The Eagleton-Biden amendment, passed in earlier years and now up for renewal, barring the Department of Education from cutting off federal aid to school systems that refuse to adopt busing plans for desegregation.
An amendment by Rep. James Collins (R-Tex.), added to the money bill for the Justice Department, blocking the Justice Department from going to court to seek school desegregation plans that require busing.
Two amendments, by Reps. Robert Dornan (R-Calif.) and John Ashbrook (R-Ohio), that would block the Internal Revenue Service from denying tax-exempt status to all-white private schools set up to avoid desegregation.
Three other Ashbrook amendments to the Labor, Education and HHS bill which, the commission said, would cripple new bilingual education regulations requiring local schools to educate children in their native language under certain conditions and bar enforcement of anti-discrimination laws involving women in university sports and employment.