The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on September 12, 1991 · Page 8
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 8

Cincinnati, Ohio
Issue Date:
Thursday, September 12, 1991
Page 8
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Thursday, September 12, 1991 THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER From Page A-1A-9 Black lawyers have doubts about Thomas' nomination BY BEN L. KAUFMAN interests of the black community." Senators should reject the nomination, Comer countered. "He has views of the law that are too conservative." Many blacks will support Thomas "because of his color," but Comer won't. "He's black and against the black people." Ellis was neutral on the nomination but said blacks who object to Thomas rightly focused on what they felt was eight years of inaction as head of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). Responses came from a sampling of the 60 lawyers in private practice listed in a directory published by the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati. As a group, they said: Thomas owes his nomination, and much of his career, to the kind of affirmative action he disdains; some see him as a willing black token for the GOP. Thomas' perceived inaction as head of the EEOC during the Reagan administration and his denigration of affirmative action counted heavily against him. His divorce from a black woman and remarriage to a white woman generates some grumbling, but it is not why many blacks oppose his nomination. Even supporters hedged. Arthur W. Harmon Jr. wants the nomination to succeed. "I have no problem with his affirmative-action stance" but "a lot of people think he has forgotten what it takes to get to a certain position." Leslie I. Gaines said Thomas should be confirmed, and he did not know why the nomination has divided blacks. Theodore M. Berry, a former mayor of Cincinnati, said the Senate should reject Thomas as it should any white candidate with the same credentials. "His paper trail indicates not that he is a conservative but that he is a reactionary." If it takes Thomas to retain a black justice on the high court, Berry said, he would go without. Alvertis W. Bishop said Thomas "al lowed himself to be used as a political tool, and his stands indicate that he is not aware of that." Bishop was undecided, but LaGretta Kennedy Bjorn opposed the nomination, saying it was "absolutely ridiculous" for Thomas to insist affirmative action played no role in his career. Audrey Campbell said she was torn over the nomination, in part because affirmative action is a "necessary evil" and she understands Thomas' reactions to affirmative action. Affirmative action opens doors, she said, but it also creates quotas that slam doors in the faces of qualified applicants. The Cincinnati Enquirer Black lawyers in the Tristate disagree whether Judge Clarence Thomas should sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a non-scientific telephone poll by The Enquirer. Even those who favored Senate confirmation showed little enthusiasm for him. Typical responses came from Calvin Buford, Arthur Comer and Ralph F. Ellis. "He essentially meets the qualifications," Buford said, and should be confirmed. Still, Thomas "is very confused in terms of his own identity," Buford said, and his views are "clearly adverse to the OARIOND OWCASE JIEWIETLIErmS Thomas CONTINUED FROM PAGE A-l endorsement of a controversial 1987 article by conservative patron Lewis Lehrman calling abortion a "holocaust" and insisting that the Constitution gave fetuses a right to life. Though in 1987 he called Lehr-man's article a "splendid example of applying natural law," he said during the first day of hearings that he did not agree with its conclusions. On Wednesday, he asserted that he did not read the article in 1987 and has not read it recently, even though it has been cited repeatedly by his critics in recent weeks. All Thomas would say about his personal views about abortion was that he was "very, very pained" by the thought of back-alley abortions. "I wouldn't want to see people subjected to that kind of torture," he said but again declined to say whether that influenced his constitutional view of abortion. On other topics, Thomas told the panel: He supports the current Supreme Court position on church-state matters and opposes official school prayers that could exclude Jews or other non-Christians. The comment may be significant because the issue of religion is in flux in the high court. When Simon asked him about the experience of a Jewish schoolchild who in the 1950s left his classroom during prayers, Thomas said, "Any policy of exclusion is inappropriate and wrong." He added that he had "no disagreement" with current court doctrines that forbid any government "endorsement" of religion. As a justice of the high court, he would read congressional de- NVENTORY LRYI SS IEWE OF EXCE 11 Year Accumulation To Be Sold At Sacrifice Prices Now Thru Saturday! These May Be The Lowest ACTUAL Prices You Will Ever Pay For Fine Jewelry. . . 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