From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
NCCCUSA Executive Arrested at U.S. Supreme Court
CAROL_FOUKE.email@example.com (CAROL FOUKE)
05 Oct 1998 14:06:03
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Contact: NCC News, 212-870-2252
Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: www.ncccusa.org
97NCC10/5/98 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NCC DEPUTY GENERAL SECRETARY ARRESTED AT U.S. SUPREME COURT
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 5 ---- A top National Council
of Churches executive was arrested for civil disobedience
today, following a rally to demand that U.S. Supreme Court
Justices hire more minority law clerks.
The Rev. Dr. Staccato Powell, NCC Deputy General
Secretary for National Ministries, was among the about 20
participants in the NAACP-sponsored rally, held in front of
the U.S. Supreme Court, to disregard a warning not to cross
a police line. "We wanted to deliver petitions to the
Justices, primarily Chief Justice William Rehnquist," Dr.
He, NAACP President/CEO Kweisi Mfume and the others
were arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail. They were
held for about 90 minutes before being formally charged,
then were transported to court for arraignment, Dr. Powell
reported by phone shortly before the arraignment.
The rally addressed the finding (USA Today, 9/10/98)
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; 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, who addressed the rally and offered the
opening prayer. "The sensitivity of the Court has to go up
on this issue. We'd be načve to expect a drastic change
overnight, but I'd be very, very disappointed if I didn't
see an increase in the number of minority law clerks over
the next several years."
This was Dr. Powell's first arrest. "We got an
opportunity while in jail to listen to `war stories' of
those who'd been on that path before," he said. "There are
some causes that necessitate your putting yourself on the
line to demonstrate your passion" - in this case, against
"this kind of blatant racism."
"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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