4 Duke J. Const. L. & Pub. Pol'y 77 (2009)
The Bush Administration and Civil Rights: Lessons Learned

handle is hein.journals/dukpup4 and id is 85 raw text is: THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND
Among the chief tasks of democratic government, none is more
basic than securing the equality of all persons before the law. In our
constitutional tradition, especially  since  Brown  v. Board  of
Education,' we have often looked to the courts to enforce civil rights
on behalf of members of historically disadvantaged groups. But our
nation's progress on civil rights has not been the work of courts alone.
Many of the civil rights laws we take for granted are testaments to the
leadership of the political branches, and no political actor in our
modern structure of government has greater power to set a robust
civil rights agenda than the President of the United States.
In this article, I examine the civil rights record of President
George W Bush to distill some lessons for the proper administration
of justice and for the broader framing of contemporary civil rights
challenges. My remarks proceed in two parts. In Part I, I discuss the
enforcement of civil rights laws by the U.S. Department of Justice. The
record of the Bush Administration reveals a shift away from
traditional enforcement priorities and, more significantly, a worrisome
erosion of institutional norms of impartiality, professionalism, and
nonpartisanship in civil rights enforcement. I propose a few
recommendations for new safeguards to restore these fundamental
law enforcement norms.
In Part II, I discuss events and initiatives outside of the
Department of Justice that are associated more closely and personally
with President Bush. I examine three issues in particular: the Bush
Administration's handling of the University of Michigan affirmative
action cases; the President's signature K-12 education initiative, the
* Associate Dean and Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law. I am grateful to
Chris Schroeder for inviting me to give this lecture at Duke Law School as part of a series
examining lessons learned from the Bush Administration. Nicole Ries provided superb research
1. Brown v. Bd. of Educ., 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

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