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Reno Defends Lee Decision

Janet Reno defends Bill Lann Lee's appointment as acting head of Justice Department's Civil Rights Division


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 16) -- Attorney General Janet Reno defended President Bill Clinton's appointment of Bill Lann Lee as the acting head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, saying the appointment will allow the U.S. Senate to see Lee's "fair, effective and thoughtful enforcement of our civil rights laws."

In a CNN interview Tuesday, Reno said, "I hope that the Senate will have a chance to work with him, to hear him, to watch him in action to understand just how effective he can be in making sure the Americans with Disabilities Act is enforced, in making sure that people are not discriminated against when they go to seek a loan to buy a house, in making sure that we end the vestiges of discrimination that remain in this country."

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She said, "The president feels very strongly that Bill Lee should head the civil rights division. He has great experience in the enforcement of our civil rights laws. He is so well qualified to work matters in a thoughtful, collegial way to the benefit of all concerned and the president feels, as do I, that he should be confirmed, that the entire Senate should vote on him. This will give the Senate an opportunity to watch him in action, to work with him, to hear from him, to understand just what an effective person he can be in enforcing our civil rights."

The attorney general has named Lee her "counselor on civil rights." She plans to rely on his knowlege and experience in working out matters. "I think he is just going to be very effective in terms of the fair, effective and thoughtful enforcement of our civil rights laws," she said.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has blocked consideration of Lee's nomination. Lee's opponents said they feared his support for affirmative action would lead to the imposition of quotas.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he feared that Clinton's appointment of Lee would lead to a backlash in the Senate with opponents attempting to block judicial appointments and funding for some of the president's key projects.

Clinton has said he will resubmit Lee's name for confirmation next year.

In Other News:

Tuesday Dec. 16, 1997

Clinton Declares '97 'A Banner Year'
Reno Not Expanding Casino Investigation
Report: Separate The Sexes In Military Training
Reno Defends Lee Decision
Judge Dismisses Four Charges Against Espy
Freeh, Clinton Display Strained Relations
Freeh: 'No Closed Aspects' To Campaign Task Force Probe

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