The Magazine

Civil Wrongs

Mary Frances Berry's legacy of 'ideological food fights.'

May 25, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 34 • By KENNETH L. MARCUS
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Unlike the present commissioners, who are deeply knowledgeable lawyers and social scientists, Berry's new commission would be a mix of "civil rights activists or experts" and others who "may know nothing in particular about civil rights"--ideologues and ignoramuses, in plainer terms, who would not embarrass the left with hard-hitting reports. The agency's new mission would be to pressure Congress to implement "human rights"--that is to say, economic redistribution--schemes issued by international bodies, and the new panel would be driven less by American constitutional values than by the undemocratic powers that control the United Nations' current human rights ministry.

Berry's plan is shrewd enough that it is now being pushed by left-wing activists, and the Obama White House is reportedly intrigued by the prospect. If they should succeed in silencing the present agency, Mary Frances Berry will have inflicted one final indignity on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Kenneth L. Marcus was staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during 2004-08.