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Rights Panel Scores Administration on Richmond Case

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Washington--The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights strongly criticized the Reagan Administration last week for its failure to appeal a court decision limiting the enforcement of Title IX, the law barring sex discrimination in education.

The independent federal agency was particularly critical of the Education and Justice Departments and the roles they played in the Administration's decision not to contest the ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in University of Richmond v. Bell.

By deciding not to appeal the ruling, the Administration failed in its duty "to exercise leadership in promoting equal opportunity," according to the commission.

In a statement released after its meeting here last week, the civil-rights commission said that ed "should have been eager to appeal a decision that so undermines its authority" and that the Justice Department "should have placed its obligation to uphold federal civil-rights laws above its client's wishes."

The commission also said that the decison not to appeal was "particularly disturbing" because it ignored recent rulings by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which directly contradicted U.S. District Judge D. Dortch Warriner's ruling in Richmond.

The Third Circuit Court's rulings, the commission said, "could have furnished strong arguments in a Richmond appeal."

"We believe the Administration should have seized them to defend long-standing federal policies and elementary principles of law rejected by the district court," it said.

The Administration's civil-rights record was also attacked last week by the chairmen of 33 state civil-rights monitoring groups affiliated with the federal commission. The state chairmen, in a letter sent to the White House on Aug. 18 but released to the public last week, warned President Reagan that "the present dismantling of" federal civil-rights agencies "negates your oath of office."--tm

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