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MINORITY 'RITES' OF PASSAGE IN OREGON

For the first time in history there is a woman and a minority man in the fray to be President of the United States.  It is a good time to shine the spotlight on where women and minorities stand at the Oregon State Bar.  It takes courage to stand up and be heard when one is in the minority.  There is a lot of that courage available as we shall see, but where is the voice of outrage now?  Perhaps it is out there in the form of a good woman or a good minority member, but the time to speak up is now.  Playing it safe won't work.  Things are that bad in our country and at the Oregon State Bar. 

     Margaret Chase Smith  --  Though McCarthyism is a well known scourge on constitutional rights in the 1950's, it may not be common knowledge that it took a courageous woman to stand and be counted to put a stop to  his trials by accusation.  Margaret Chase Smith was the first  woman to be elected to both houses of Congress.  She came to prominence during the height of Senator Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist crusade and in 1950 was the first senator to speak out against him.  Her 'Declaration of Conscience'  denounced McCarthy's smear campaign.   Ms. Chase  Smith wrote that there is little distinction  between criminal prosecution and character prosecution when the following are subject to assassination:

  •             The right to criticize;
  •             The right to hold unpopular beliefs;
  •             The right to protest;
  •             The  right of independent thought.

    The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or right to a livelihood.  Otherwise, none of us could call our souls our own, she wrote.

        Minority 'Rites'  --  At the Oregon State Bar  there are 4,000 women lawyers and 9,000 men lawyers.  Conversely, of the 90 employees at the Oregon State Bar there are 70 women and 20 men.  With equal alacrity should we aspire to improve the numbers of women lawyers in Oregon and improve the number of men on staff at the Bar?  Richard Yugler is the new President of the Oregon State Bar and may be receptive to your thoughts on these subjects.  Your Region's Board of Governor member is supposed to solicit your feedback on issues for the good of the order as is your House of Delegates member. 

    Minoru Yasui  --    Mr. Yasui  graduated from University of Oregon Law School in 1939.  He got caught up with  Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin Roosevelt following the attack on Pearl Harbor.  All residents of Oregon of Japanese ancestry were required to report to the North Portland Livestock Pavilion in April of 1942.  Four military police escorted Mr. Yasui to the livestock abode.  Subsequently, he was found guilty of not presenting himself to the livestock center voluntarily, sentenced to a year in solitary confinement and fined $5,000. 

    These internments were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1945, however, the Korematsu case in 1983 set aside his particular conviction, but not the precedent of the decision by our highest court.   Mr. Korematsu subsequently won the Presidential Medal For Freedom because of his fight against injustice. He joined in the litigation against the GITMO internment just before he died.

          Minority 'Rites'  --  Of the over12,000 active lawyers in Oregon there are 295 acknowledged as Asian and 100 recognized African-Americans.  As we wrote about here as well as in Willamette Week in September and October of 2007, the Oregon State Bar Executive Director, Karen Garst, managed to cause the 2007 resignation of Stella Manabe who ran the Bar's Affirmative Action Program.  Ms. Manabe's leadership has been acknowledged nationally and she was specifically recognized by the Lewis and Clark Law School in 2007.

Here is the Point.  During the McCarthy era, Ms. Chase Smith was the first lonely voice of dissent.  Where were the other united voices of outrage ?  Mr. Yasui was unceremoniously thrown in jail by his country's leaders only because of his race, yet he still volunteered to serve in the Army after he got out of jail.  Did any Oregon citizens protest in his behalf at this outrage?   Where are the united voices of outrage that the Korematsu case is still on the books?  Where are the united voices of outrage at an Executive Director at the Oregon State Bar who continues to be employed after her assassination of the Bar's Affirmative Action Program that was an example nationally.   Are the voices there, but we can't hear you?  Is the media interested? Are the members of the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors deaf?  It is a new year with new members on the Bar's Board of Governors, so a second effort may be in order.  There is a new member on the  Supreme Court of Oregon with a civil rights background.  And a woman! 

 

Posted on Friday, February 1, 2008 at 01:01PM by Registered CommenterLAUREN PAULSON in | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

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