From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
NCCCUSA Demands: "More Minority Law Clerks"
CAROL_FOUKE.email@example.com (CAROL FOUKE)
02 Oct 1998 14:55:43
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the
Contact: NCC News, 212-870-2252
96NCC10/2/98 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NCC JOINS CALL FOR MORE MINORITY LAW CLERKS
AT U.S. SUPREME COURT
NAACP Rally Set for 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 5, in Front
of the U.S. Supreme Court
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 2 ---- How can a young
Native, Asian, Hispanic or African American aspire
to be a U.S. Supreme Court Justice if he or she has
so little hope of becoming a law clerk in that
The Rev. Dr. Staccato Powell, National Council
of Churches Associate General Secretary for National
Ministries, will be asking that and other questions
on Monday (Oct. 5) when he addresses a 9 a.m. NAACP-
sponsored rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
His question arises from the NAACP's finding
that of the 394 law clerks hired by the current
judges during their respective terms, fewer than 2
percent have been African American, only 1 percent
Hispanic, and fewer than 5 percent Asian American.
None have been Native American and fewer than one
quarter have been women.
Each of the nine Justices is allowed up to four
law clerks a year. These clerks review all cases
brought before the Court and help decide which ones
the Justices should hear. They often write the
first drafts of the decisions. Thirty-four law
clerks currently are serving, including 22 white
men, 11 white women and one Hispanic woman. More
than 40 percent of law school graduates now are
women and nearly 20 percent are minorities.
"The law clerks serving the U.S. Supreme Court
need to be much more reflective of the fabric of
America," Dr. Powell said. "Law clerks actually
shape the decisions made by the Court, and we know
how long it takes to get a decision reversed. The
1896 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson
set a precedent for `separate but equal' public
facilities for blacks and whites that stood for
nearly 60 years before Brown v. Board of Education
overturned it in 1954.
"Cases on which the U.S. Supreme Court rules
have an impact on an entire generation. This Court,
the highest court in the country, has the final say
on such important issues as affirmative action,
civil rights, access to education, workplace
discrimination, and life or death.
"The NCC is an ally in this attempt to bring
attention to this practice of prima facie
discrimination," Dr. Powell said. "This issue does
not simply impact the discipline of jurisprudence.
Equally important is the erosion of the Biblical
principle of justice. As people of faith, we are
compelled to be prophetic in our call for justice.
In the spirit of Amos, we implore the highest court
in the land to let justice roll down like water, and
righteousness like a mighty stream."
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