Hispanic group criticizes EEOC's record under Thomas


WASHINGTON -- A major national Hispanic organization issued a report yesterday indirectly but sharply criticizing Judge Clarence Thomas, President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court.

The report was the latest indication that Hispanic opposition to Judge Thomas' confirmation by the Senate is growing and becoming more severe.

The Washington-based National Council of La Raza distributed here and at its annual convention in Houston a report describing as "extremely poor" and very nearly discriminatory the performance of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Hispanics while Judge Thomas was the commission's chairman.

Judge Thomas was chairman of the EEOC from 1982 to last year, when President Bush appointed him to be a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the post he now holds while he awaits Senate action on his Supreme Court nomination.

During his tenure at the EEOC, he was attacked by civil rights organizations for his opposition to affirmative action as a means of dealing with employment discrimination and for his administration of the nation's equal employment opportunity laws. Now his views and his actions as EEOC chairman are principal targets of those who oppose his nomination to the Supreme Court.

In Houston yesterday, La Raza's president, Raul Yzaguirre, said the organization's board of directors voted over the weekend not to oppose or support Judge Thomas' Senate confirmation pending further research into his record, Reuters reported.

But Mr. Yzaguirre described as "dismal" EEOC's record on cases in which Hispanics claimed they had been the victims of discrimination.

Mr. Yzaguirre said the La Raza board will not take a position on Judge Thomas until mid-August, the same stance taken last week by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Other Hispanic organizations are gearing up to oppose Judge Thomas.

In Los Angeles, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, another major Hispanic civil rights organization, was preparing to oppose Judge Thomas when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September for a hearing on his confirmation.

Staff members at the fund's headquarters said yesterday that the organization's board of directors was studying Judge Thomas' record and would soon approve a staff recommendation to oppose him.

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