US Commission on Civil Rights staff report released October 5, 2004 [concluding, in the terms of an accompanying press release, "that the administration has failed to exhibit leadership or define a clear focus, relegating civil rights to a low priority"]. Highlights [again as per the press release]:
- Voting Rights: The Bush administration did not provide leadership to ensure timely passage and swift implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. As a result, Congress did not appropriate funds for election reform until almost two years into the administration.
- Equal Educational Opportunity: The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) does not sufficiently address unequal education, a major barrier to closing the achievement gap between minority and white students.
- Affirmative Action: Instead of promoting affirmative action in federal contracting and education, the administration promotes "race neutral alternatives," in many instances not applicable and in others not overly effective at maintaining diversity.
- Environmental Justice: EPA has taken few actions to ensure disparate impact of minority communities to environmental contamination.
- Racial Profiling: The administration responded to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by instituting regulations that facilitate profiling rather than prevent it. Immigrants and visitors from Arab and Middle Eastern countries were subjected to increased scrutiny, including interviews, registration, and in some cases removal.
Read the full text of Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2004 [PDF; September 2004]. On Friday, October 8, the Commission voted to postpone discussion of the report until after the November election. Reported in JURIST's Paper Chase here.