It is heartening that reasonableness and the long view finally have prevailed so that the US Commission on Civil Rights will be continued rather than killed. The nation's minorities still need the public voicing of their needs that the commission so often has provided. Despite major improvements in American society in recent decades, the nation's majority still needs to be alerted to the unmet civil rights needs of its citizens, as the commission has frequently done.
Yet it is unfortunate that the tussle was so extended between the White House and Congress over whether to continue the commission - and, if so, how. The delay gave the impression that the government is more interested in political squabbling than in protecting the needs of its minority citizens. Politics has no place in the safeguarding of constitutionally guaranteed civil rights.
Until now the entire Commission on Civil Rights has been selected by the president, but under the new plan half its members would be appointed by the president and half by Congress. The new commission would have eight members; both the president and congressional leaders would appoint two from each party.
This probably was the best compromise that could have been struck, inasmuch as the alternative was to watch the commission expire. Yet due to its new joint composition it likely would have less power than in the past, as presidential commissions tend to have the most influence.
Congress should approve the proposal expeditiously, without the ''right to life'' amendment one senator proposes. President Reagan should sign it, as he is fully expected to do.