The Congressional Black Caucus, other members of Congress and various civil rights groups yesterday called for the resignation of Marianne Mele Hall, the chairman of the Copyright Royalty Tribunal, as she disavowed racially disparaging viewpoints expressed in a 1982 book she helped write.
At a hearing before the House Judiciary subcommittee that oversees the copyright tribunal, Hall also came under sharp attack by panel members who accused her of not being candid earlier about her role in getting the controversial book published, her association with the High Frontier Inc. lobbying group, and her relative lack of expertise in copyright law.
Hall also was questioned about the attendance rate at the troubled regulatory agency, where, Hall acknowledged, the paid commissioners some days do not show up for work.
Most of the criticism focused on the book, "Foundations of Sand," which says U.S. blacks "insist on preserving their jungle freedoms, their women, their avoidance of personal responsibility and their abhorrence of the work ethic." The book also says sociologists "put blacks on welfare so that they can continue their jungle freedoms of leisure time and subsidized procreation."
Hall, who was made to testify under oath, said yesterday that she had received $1,000 for editing the book, and said she listed herself as a coauthor on a biographical form for the Senate because "I was much younger then . . . . I was merely the editor -- simply verbs, nouns, pronouns, dangling participles, sentence structure."
Later, when pressed on whether she agreed or disagreed with the book, she said, "They are not my views, and as a lay person they are repugnant to me as well."
Rep. Robert W. Kastenmeier (D-Wis.), chairman of the subcommittee, said he found Hall's disavowals "difficult to believe" and questioned whether she could continue in her job "with any credibility."
Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) said later, "If you edit that kind of book for $1,000, God knows what you'll do for $7,000."
Hall said after the hearing, "I hope the people will treat me fairly," and said she hopes the matter will be put to rest.
Calls for her resignation mounted, however. Four members of Congress gave short speeches on the House floor asking her to quit, and Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Copyright Royalty Tribunal's budget, asked her to step down.
The Congressional Black Caucus has scheduled a news conference for today, at which a biracial group plans to ask Hall to quit. "The book is obviously garbage, and she is associated with that garbage and should be terminated," said Rep. Mickey Leland (D-Tex.), chairman of the caucus. "If she was the editor, that is even more crass, because she had an opportunity to correct all of that."
Thirty members of Congress also have signed a letter to President Reagan saying Hall "will never be free from the terrible shadow cast by her close association with that book's contents." The letter was circulated by Rep. Don Edwards (D-Calif.).
Rep. Norman Y. Mineta (D-Calif.) said Hall "took part in a vile, baseless, and racist piece of literature. Her defense shows the twisted ethics of one who has no sense of the larger moral picture."
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Women's Legal Defense Fund and the Center for National Policy Review issued a statement saying Hall "never should have been confirmed . . . . The Senate of the United States should be ashamed of itself."
Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee that confirmed Hall, was "distressed" by the book revelation, an aide said. Thurmond instructed Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.), chairman of the copyright subcommittee, to investigate the matter.
The small tribunal sets the rates that cable television operators must pay to rebroadcast movies, sports and other programs, and then disburses the millions of dollars it collects among the copyright-holders.
Hall also came under criticism for her association with High Frontier Inc., an organization that grew out of the study that initiated the administration's "Star Wars" missile defense plan.
Hall was an editor for that initial Star Wars study, and it was through the High Frontier group that she met her coauthors of the "Foundations of Sand" book: Lawrence Hafstad, a physicist from Chester, Md., and John Morse, a retired Navy captain.
On the biographical form she submitted to the Senate, Hall said she was not associated with any lobby group. But Kastenmeier asked, "Are you aware that High Frontier is registered with the clerk of the House as a lobbying organization?"
Hall replied that she believed High Frontier to be a charitable organization, and said, "I will readily resign" from the High Frontier board if it does lobby.