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Statement of Mark J. Pelavin Associate Director Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on the President's Naming of Bill Lann Lee as Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

December 15, 1997

"The Reform Jewish Movement rarely takes positions in support of or in opposition to nominees for executive branch positions. We have, however, spoken out about the nomination of Bill Lann Lee to be assistant attorney general for civil rights, lamenting that his nomination has been allowed to languish so that some on Capitol Hill can express their disagreement with the president's views on affirmative action.

"By today naming Bill Lann Lee acting assistant attorney general for civil rights, President Clinton has taken the least confrontational route open to him, and placed a well-qualified, consensus-oriented lawyer in the nation's top civil rights law enforcement position. Forced to choose between leaving the position vacant and selecting an alternate candidate, a candidate who would be able to pass the Judiciary Committee's remarkable new litmus test of disagreeing with the president on affirmative action, President Clinton made the only choice consistent with his vision - and ours - of a Justice Department committed to vigorous civil rights enforcement.

"Pressing work awaits Mr. Lee in his new post as acting head of the civil rights division. We stand ready to work with him, to help ensure that the promise of equal justice is a reality for all Americans."

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.




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