Civil Rights Forum
Volume 11, Number 1
In This Issue...
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Deval L. Patrick, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights for nearly three years,
resigned effective January 20, 1997. He was interviewed for the Civil Rights Forum
by the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section's Deputy Director (Program), Ted Nickens. The
interview took place in Mr. Patrick's office on January 8, 1997.
FORUM: What would you say were your most significant accomplishments as
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights?
DLP: I think we have a very energized enforcement program with some terrific
people, both career and non-career. Their dedication always has been clear, but I think
their support is broader within the Department and within the Administration, and their
mission is clearer.
Specifically, I'm proud of the work we've done in fair lending, in our enforcement and
public education on disability rights issues and the ADA, and in our voting efforts, such
as "Motor Voter" and the defense of majority minority voting districts. We also
have defended affirmative action with integrity and a good deal of success. We also now
have a Title VI program that has been awakened from a long period of dormancy. And, of
course, our work on church arsons.
There's work still to be done. For example, VMI and The Citadel are now open to women
but there are still issues to be worked through in terms of the full integration of women
into those programs. I am very confident of the Department's and the Administration's
continuing support for this program and of the continuing energy level and commitment of
the people in the Division.
FORUM: What was the most difficult issue you had to face?
DLP: The church arsons certainly have been one of the more significant
challenges because of the scope of the coordination needed to respond effectively. We have
probably the most well-coordinated, multi-agency response that anybody is able to point
to. We have typically competitive law enforcement agencies working hand-in-hand in the
same offices on similar projects. We've had a seven to eight-fold increase in the rate of
arrests -- we've made possibly 140 arrests in the matters under investigation by the task
force. We have a lot more work to do, but we've undertaken what has become the largest
current civil rights investigation and one of the second or third largest criminal
investigations of any kind ever.
FORUM: Is there any matter that you feel you are leaving unfinished?
DLP: How can I put it? I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said, "Constant
vigilance is the price of liberty." I take that to mean that the work of civil
rights, which is of course the measure of liberty and the vitality of American democracy,
is never finished. There are financial and staffing resource demands on the Division that
have become more acute and will require the immediate attention of the Department. I think
that if you are going to have a vigorous program, you need to support it completely so
that you can sustain that vigor over time.
Speaking more broadly, I think the quality of the public debate on issues of race
relations, in particular civil rights, has improved only marginally, but I think it has
improved. I think the President himself laid out notions of reconciliation and respect as
preeminent themes of his second term and that's important. I think we heard a re-elected
Speaker of the House talk about issues of race relations and a national conversation on
race requiring the attention of Congress as well. I think these are good things, not
things to be afraid of. They will be difficult, I'm sure, but they will serve our
long-term interests in this country.
We, all of us, have contributed in the last four years or so in trying to improve that
discussion. We've had to go through some pretty sullied periods before coming to where we
are, but where we are is better than where we were, and as long as we keep moving forward
we'll be all right.
FORUM: During your tenure you made a committed effort to reinvigorate the
enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which you referred to as a
"Sleeping Giant." What can the Federal government do to continue to raise public
awareness about Title VI?
DLP: Well, for one thing, because of the way Title VI is organized, it's not
enough for the Department of Justice alone to vigorously enforce it. Effective enforcement
of Title VI requires that it get due attention from the funding agencies as well. I think
there is still some more work to do in this regard. We have seen the agencies' awareness
raised, but we are still seeing an uneven level of attention being paid to Title VI. I
think we also need to examine ways in which the Department may have independent litigating
authority under the related provisions of various block grant statutes. I also think we
need to enhance the resources within the Division that are devoted to Title VI
FORUM: How would you like your tenure to be remembered by the civil rights
DLP: Respectfully. I think what we tried to do here is enforce the civil rights
laws without fear and without favor. That is not going to make everyone happy all of the
time, but I think that the integrity with which all of us here have gone about this
mission deserves the respect of the Administration, the Congress, and the American people
as a whole.
FORUM: What will you miss most when you leave?
DLP: The people. First and foremost, the people. All of the people, their
energy, the variety of their perspectives, their dedication and their talent. I will also
miss the stimulation of this job. It's hard to imagine another job where one can say, as I
can about this one, that I have never had a single dull day. What is stimulating about the
job is that it is active and challenging on many different levels simultaneously.
FORUM: You said that the primary reason for leaving was your family. How do they
feel about your decision?
DLP: (Laughter) I think they feel great. The evening that I sent my letter of
resignation into the Oval Office, I left the West Wing with very mixed feelings about the
decision. I called home and got my youngest daughter on the line and I said,
"Katherine, I've resigned," and she said, "Daddy, does that mean you
quit?" I said, "Yes, that's what it means," and she said,
My kids are proud of my work, they are proud of what I do. A couple of years ago, as
part of a project explaining what their parents did, my oldest daughter Sarah described me
as "trying to bring justice to people." They understand what I do with my
colleagues here in the Division. I also am fortunate in that they are very clear about
what their needs are, and they were willing to lend me to public service for a while. But
as the end has drawn near, they've been very forthright about their interest in having me
FORUM: Do you have any parting words for the Division's staff and the other
civil rights staff throughout the Federal government who enforce Title VI?
DLP: My parting words are: "Keep the Faith." I believe that successful
Title VI enforcement ultimately depends on the continuing initiative and commitment of
career civil servants and not entirely on the so-called "political leadership"
that comes and goes. Many of the best ideas generated by the Civil Rights Division
originated with the staff, and we sent them up to the leadership of the Department, and
from there they went to the White House. I'm sure other agencies have had that same
"...[W]hat we tried to do here is enforce the civil rights laws without fear and
"...[M]y oldest daughter [as part of a school project] described me as `trying to
bring justice to people'."
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Deputy Assistant Attorney General Isabelle Katz Pinzler has been named as the Civil
Rights Division's Acting Assistant Attorney General. She will serve until a new Assistant
Attorney General is nominated and confirmed.
As Deputy Assistant Attorney General since 1994, Ms. Pinzler directed the work of the
Division in the enforcement of Federal civil rights laws in the areas of employment and
education. She also supervised litigation in defense of Federal affirmative action
programs and the work of the Division in the governmentwide review of Federal affirmative
Prior to joining the Civil Rights Division, Ms. Pinzler was for 15 years the Director
of the Women's Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. In that capacity, she
became a nationally recognized expert in sex discrimination and civil rights law and
Ms. Pinzler designed, supervised, and participated in major groundbreaking litigation
and major amicus curiae briefs involving employment, education, public
accommodations (including insurance), health care, and the military.
Prior to joining the ACLU staff, Ms. Pinzler served as Deputy Director of the National
Employment Law Project (a Legal Services support center), and as a staff attorney with the
Law Reform Unit of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.
A native New Yorker, Ms. Pinzler received her A.B. degree in history from Goucher
College in 1967 and graduated from the Boston University School of Law in 1970.
In other front office moves, former Chief of Staff Susan Liss now serves as Chief of
Staff to Mrs. Gore and Special Counsel to the Vice President. Former Deputy Assistant
Attorney General Kerry Scanlon joined the Washington, D.C. office of Kaye, Scholer,
Fierman, Hays & Handler, where he will head up a new civil rights practice group.
William Yeomans, formerly Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, now serves as
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Ms. Pinzler. Liz Savage, formerly Special
Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General, now is Counsel on disability law and policy.
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The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, at the request of the Attorney General,
has launched a police misconduct initiative to combat and prevent law enforcement
misconduct, both through deterrence and through education and training.
A primary focus of the initiative is the enforcement of recent legislation that
provides "pattern or practice" civil litigation authority to the Justice
Department to remedy police misconduct. Under the Violent Crime Control and Law
Enforcement Act of 1994, the Department may file suit where there is a pattern or practice
of misconduct that violates the Constitution or Federal law.
Importantly, this authority allows the Department to address law enforcement management
practices that countenance misconduct. The Department for many years has criminally
prosecuted individual police officers who abuse their authority. However, criminal
prosecutions do not directly confront broader management problems.
The police misconduct initiative also addresses discriminatory law enforcement
practices prohibited under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Omnibus Crime
Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. Thousands of law enforcement agencies receive
financial assistance from the Department, and thus are prohibited from discriminating on
the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or religion. Law enforcement agencies also
are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability under Title II of the
Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
On February 26, 1997, the Justice Department filed its first lawsuit resulting from the
Police Misconduct Initiative, against the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On the same
day, the Department and the city filed a proposed consent decree, which sets forth
comprehensive guidelines for the training, supervision, and discipline of Pittsburgh
Numerous other police misconduct investigations are underway. They address a variety of
issues, including allegations of excessive force and discriminatory traffic stops, and
involve law enforcement agencies across the country.
The Civil Rights Division also is examining how to assist law enforcement agencies to
develop and implement sound management practices. The Division has participated in policy
forums and training sessions attended by law enforcement executives. It also is
cooperating with the Department's fund-granting agencies to explore how State and local
police integrity initiatives may receive Federal financial support.
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The College Board and the Educational Testing Service (ETS) have agreed to revise the
Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT), the main determinant in awarding National
Merit Scholarships. Each year over one million high school juniors compete for a share of
the $27 million awarded through these prestigious scholarships.
The changes to the PSAT come in response to a 1994 civil rights complaint filed by the
National Center for Fair and Open Testing (Fair Test) with the Department of Education.
Fair Test charged disparity in the awarding of National Merit Scholarships.
The complaint was filed under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which
prohibits sex discrimination in any education program receiving Federal financial
assistance. The College Board and ETS, which administers the standardized test, both
receive Federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.
Fair Test alleged that girls tended to score lower on the PSAT even though their high
school and college grades were better than their male classmates. As a result, about 60
percent of the scholarships typically go to boys out of a pool of test takers that
typically is 60 percent female.
The College Board will add a multiple choice section to the test in 1997 to measure
writing aptitude, which will include questions involving the structure of language and
standard written English. The College Board and ETS are confident that the addition of the
nonessay writing test is likely to provide a more accurate measure for the award of
National Merit Scholarships and provide equal opportunity for girls to receive these
Advocacy groups such as Fair Test and the American Civil Liberties Union Women's Rights
Project remain skeptical. Representatives of both organizations advocate that the National
Merit Scholarship selection process should be changed to reduce the emphasis on PSAT
scores and introduce high school grades and class rank into the early stages of the
selection process, rather than the final stages. These groups are not convinced that test
scores alone accurately predict who will be the better student.
The College Board states that the merit selection process was already skewed to try to
compensate for girls' lower math scores by counting the verbal score twice and the math
score only once. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights will monitor the
revised PSAT to see whether the gap closes between male and female National Merit
The College Board and ETS have agreed to undertake a research project to see how high
school grades might be incorporated into the selection criteria at the early stages of the
scholarship award process. They also will explore other possible changes in the PSAT.
The question remains: Do standardized test scores result in a disproportionately lower
number of financial scholarships being awarded to girls? At least one Federal court seems
to think so. A Federal district court ruled in 1989 that the New York State Regents
Scholarships, which are determined by SAT scores, discriminated against girls. When New
York State relied on standardized tests, girls won only 43 percent of the scholarships.
One year later, when the State also took grades into consideration, girls were awarded 51
percent of the scholarships. Sharif v. New York State Education Department,
709 F.Supp. 345 (1989).
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The Department of Education is finalizing its review of comments received on two draft
policy guidance documents concerning sexual harassment in schools.
In August 1996, the Department published a Federal Register notice requesting
comments on a draft policy applying Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to
student-on-student sexual harassment. In September 1996, the Department published a second
notice requesting comments on a draft policy applying Title IX to sexual harassment of
students by school employees. The September notice advised that after the comments are
reviewed, a single document would be prepared setting forth the standards followed by the
Education Department's Office for Civil Rights in this area.
One of the key issues under Title IX concerns the circumstances in which a school
system may be held responsible because of sexual harassment by an employee or student.
There is little debate about school responsibility for an employee's "quid pro quo
harassment" (i.e., where the employee seeks to trade an education-related
decision or participation in an educational program or activity for unwelcome sexual
However, the scope of school responsibility is less clear where sexual harassment by an
employee creates a "hostile environment," but there is no element of quid pro
quo. In several cases, the Fifth Circuit has taken a narrow view. Most recently, in Rosa
H. v. San Elizaro Independent School District, 1997 WL 66087 (February 17,
1997), the court held that a school system is liable for its employees' actions only if a
school official with supervisory authority over the harasser had actual notice of the
abuse and failed to stop it. Nonetheless, the court noted that if the final Department of
Education guideline provides for broader liability, that standard may apply where a school
system accepts Federal funding after the guideline is issued.
Where the harassment in student-on-student, the question is whether a school is liable
under Title IX if it knew or should have known of the harassment but failed to take
appropriate measures to stop it.
A panel of the Eleventh Circuit adopted the "know or should have known"
standard, but the ruling was vacated for a rehearing en banc and a decision is
pending. Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 74 F.3d 1186, vacated
and reh'ing en banc ordered, 91 F.3d 1418 (1996).
A panel of the Fifth Circuit took a narrow view, stating that even a failure to take
remedial action in the face of known sexual harassment would not trigger Title IX
liability. Instead, the court said that a school could be held responsible under Title IX
only if it treated peer harassment of one gender differently than peer harassment of the
other gender. Rowinsky v. Bryan Independent School District, 80 F.3d 1006, cert.
denied, 117 S. Ct. 165 (1996).
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a. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal Regarding Private
Damages in Title IX Employment Case
On October 21, 1996, the Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari
in Lakoski v. University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 117 S. Ct.
357 (1996), a case in which a female university professor had obtained damages for
employment discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court judgment, ruling that victims of
employment discrimination may not sue for damages under Title IX, regardless of the fact
that the discrimination was perpetrated by a federally funded educational institution. Lakoski
v. James, 66 F.3d 751 (1995). The appeals court held that Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 provides the exclusive remedy for such damage claims, but reserved the
question whether declaratory and injunctive relief still may be obtained under Title IX.
The Department of Justice filed a brief as amicus curiae in support of the
plaintiff's unsuccessful request for Supreme Court review.
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b. Fourth Circuit Declines to Hear Appeal in Environmental
On January 30, 1997, the Fourth Circuit declined to hear an interlocutory appeal of a
Pennsylvania district court's decision in an environmental justice case. Chester
Residents Concerned for Quality Living v. Seif, CV-96-3960 (E.D. Pa.). The
Justice Department had filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the appeal.
In its November 5, 1996 decision, the district court found that there is no private
right of action to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under the implementing
regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and it dismissed those claims
with prejudice. Chester, 944 F.Supp. 413 (E.D. Pa. 1996). The district court also
found that plaintiffs must allege discriminatory intent when pleading a statutory
violation of Title VI, and it gave the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint to do so.
In its brief supporting a petition for a discretionary appeal by the plaintiffs, the
Justice Department argued that agency regulations prohibiting disparate impact should be
viewed as substantive regulations that have the force and effect of law. As such, a
private right of action may be implied directly under the regulations. Thus, the
Department contended, whether plaintiffs must prove intent is a controlling question of
law in this litigation.
As reported in the Fall 1996 issue of the Civil Rights Forum, the Justice
Department filed an amicus curiae brief in this case on April 23, 1996. That brief
contended that regulations implementing Title VI proscribe disparate impact against
minority communities resulting from a grant of a permit by a State environmental agency,
unless the action is legally justified.
Plaintiffs in the Chester case allege that a regional office of the Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Protection violated Title VI and EPA's implementing
regulations by granting permits for waste facilities and other polluting facilities in a
manner that caused disproportionate and adverse human health, environmental, and other
effects on minority populations.
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c. Justice Department Files Briefs in Cases Addressing
Coverage of State Prisons
The Justice Department has filed amicus curiae briefs in two cases asserting
that Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, are applicable to State correctional institutions.
In Armstrong v. Wilson, 942 F. Supp. 1252 (N.D. Cal. 1996), a district
court agreed with the position taken by the Justice Department and ruled that Title II
applies to California State prisons. The case is on appeal before the Ninth Circuit, and
the Justice Department filed an additional brief before that court restating its position.
The Justice Department filed a similar brief in Amos v. The Maryland
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (4th Cir.), appealing a lower
court's decision granting defendant State officials' motion for summary judgment
dismissing a suit by prisoners with disabilities.
Both court cases involve allegations that State prison programs, services, and
facilities are not adequately accessible to inmates with disabilities in violation of
Title II and Section 504. The defendants in both cases argued that neither Title II nor
Section 504 are applicable to State prisons. They also contended that even if Congress
intended to apply the statutes, it lacked authority to do so and, in any event, the
Eleventh Amendment barred any such suits.
The Justice Department asserted that both the plain language of the statutes and the
Department's regulations support the applicability of the two statutes to State
correctional institutions. In addition, the Justice Department asserted that the
Rehabilitation Act and the ADA were enacted pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment and,
therefore, Congress had authority pursuant to Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to
waive a State's Eleventh Amendment immunity.
Decisions in these cases will affect the coverage of prisons under Title VI of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as well as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972) because
Title II of the ADA is based on Section 504, and Section 504 is based on Title VI.
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The Department of Justice's Title VI brochure now is available in Spanish (above) from
the Civil Rights Division's Federal Coordination and Compliance Section. The brochure, which addresses
Title VI from a governmentwide perspective, describes the broad range of federally
assisted programs covered by Title VI. It provides guidance on how and where to file
complaints of discrimination and discusses the Department of Justice's role as the Title
VI complaint "clearinghouse" under Executive Order 12250.
Something to share? The Civil Rights Forum is looking for agency
"happenings" and news of interest to other agencies and the civil rights
community. Contact us at (202) 307-2222 (voice); (202) 307-2678 (TDD), or write to:
Civil Rights Forum
Federal Coordination and Compliance Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66560
Washington, D.C. 20035-6560
The Attorney General has determined that the publication of this periodical is
necessary in the transaction of the public business required by law of the Department of
Justice. Use of funds for printing this periodical has been approved by the Attorney
- Janet Reno
Deputy Attorney General
John C. Dwyer
Acting Associate Attorney General
Isabelle Katz Pinzler
Acting Assistant Attorney General
William Yeomans (Acting)
Deputy Assistant Attorneys General
Merrily A. Friedlander
Theodore R. Nickens
Deputy Section Chief (Program)
Andrew M. Strojny
Deputy Section Chief (Legal)
Contributing to this issue: Mona Diaz, Joshua Mendelsohn, Ted Nickens, Allen Payne,
- Logistics: Michael Espeut
- Secretarial support: Rita Craig
This newsletter is available in alternate formats. Contact the Coordination and Review
Section at (202) 307-2222 (voice) or (202) 307-2678 (TDD).
Toll-free Title VI Information Line: 1-888-TITLE06