lumping together liberal-minded minorities. Rudman agreed to strike the redistricting rule from his harshly worded bill. Meanwhile, Democrats were content to await the outcome of an expected lawsuit challenging the rule. Alan Houseman, executive director of Washington’s Center for Law and Social Policy, a counsel to local legal services programs across the country, is intent on taking legal action. As soon as a program must turn down litigation because of the new regulations, LSC will likely be headed for court. Advocates for the deprived local program will argue -most likely persuasively that the regulation is illegal because it violates the 1974 act that established the corporation. That law states that local boards are to determine their own priorities. “This is plainly illegal,” says Houseman. “Boards are supposed to set their own priorities.” MEANWHILE, the Senate has continued its silence on the ban in the current appropriation bill that, as the Observer went to press, was on its way to both chambers. \(The House did not adopt any LSC package before the In fact, this silence was the result of an all-too-common Washington compromise. The LSC has been circulating its own proposal on the Hill to have Congress pass legislation that would make the restriction on redistricting cases as good as law. a move that would sure up LSC’s position in court. LSC officials are harboring fears of their own. Although several Senators, including Texas’s Phil Gramm and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, supported the ban on redistricting suits, with Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and Ohio Senator Howard Metzenbaum ready to respond, Republican lawmakers never raised the LSC proposal. “Both sides were poised to strike if either side proposed an amendment \(on “Nobody ever pushed it. ” In their fear of LSC-funded redistricting suits, supporters of the ban apparently failed to understand that LSC programs virtually never bring suits involving Congressional Districts. With one exception. Not surprisingly the one known exception involved a lawmaker who is now said to favor the ban: Phil Gramm. Gramm has never shown much love for legal-aid groups. In 1983, Gramm found himself embroiled in a redistricting suit connected to a special election for his , then House seat. TRLA lawyers argued that the election date had to be pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department. Election pre-clearance is especially important in Texas, where migrant workers can effectively be disenfranchised if an election is held during an agricultural off-season. The case was dismissed, and Gramm was Senator Phil Gramm reelected. But Gramm likely has some personal feelings about LSC-sponsored redistricting suits. \(A Gramm spokesman said his office has a policy of not talking to the Republicans may also be wrong in their assessment of how redistricting suits affect members of their own party. Legal services lawyers say that such suits often help Republicans at the expense of Democrats. In Texas, many new districts that resulted from redistricting suits following the 1980 census actually went Republican. According to TRLA Executive Director David Hall, after a district is carved out that allows a Minority candidate to be elected, leftover districts dominated by conservative Democrats and Republicans often align with GOP candidates. “When we’re cutting districts to increase minority representation, it often has the effect of increasing Republican representation at the expense of Democrats,” Hall explains. For programs like TRLA, a lawsuit may be the best hope for overturning the LSC redistricting regulation. But there is one other possibility: a new LSC board. The 11 current directors are Reagan holdovers; their terms have long expired. President Bush is expected to nominate a new slate any day now. What that slate will look like remains unclear. The Reagan administration wasn’t shy about its desire to gut the LSC, proposing zero funding for the LSC budget in all but one year. But the Bush administration has waffled on its stance on the LSC. Bush has DAVE DENISON surrounded himself with advisors with varying opinions about the agency. Chief of Staff John Sununu leans heavily toward the Reagan line. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh is considered friendly toward the LSC. So far, Sununu appears to be calling the shots. Last month, Sununu agreed to drop former Congressman M. Caldwell Butler, a Virginia Republican, from consideration as LSC board chair after conservatives balked at Butler’s possible appointment. These activists were disgusted by Butler’s murky stance on abortion and by his proLSC voting record. \(The White House cannot actually nominate someone to head the LSC board, though it can nominate a person with the tacit understanding that he or she will become chair once the full board At the same time, the White House is looking for moderates such as Washington lawyer Michael Madigan, who advised the Bush transition team, to sit on the board. Like Reagan, Bush could appoint both conservatives and moderates, while giving the edge to conservatives. Even a moderate board might not do the trick when it comes to redistricting, however. By statute, the composition of the LSC board must be split between the two parties. A bipartisan board may well want to avoid an issue that smacks of partisanship. Whatever steps a new board does take on the redistricting issue, most here in Washington are anxiously awaiting a change at the LSC. 0 10 OCTOBER 27, 1989
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