Headwinds for civil rights pick

DEVAL PATRICK, a Boston lawyer who is Clinton's choice to be the top US civil rights enforcer, is drawing conservative fire even before the expected announcement of his nomination Feb. 2.

Clint Bolick, vice president of the conservative Institute for Justice, said Mr. Patrick ``is part of the same pro-quota chorus that produced Lani Guinier,'' Clinton's original nominee as assistant attorney general to head the Justice Department's civil rights division. Her nomination was later withdrawn.

The attack Jan. 31 by Mr. Bolick, who led the conservative charge against Ms. Guinier, brought administration backers to the defense of Patrick. A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Patrick would be named by Clinton in an Oval Office announcement with Attorney General Janet Reno Feb. 1.

Without confirming the choice, White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers said Clinton will name ``someone who has a solid record ... who can be confirmed. That doesn't mean there won't be some controversy.''

Asked about Patrick on Jan. 13, Mary Frances Berry, chairwoman of the US Commission on Civil Rights, said, ``It's wonderful that the president is able to get someone of his quality.''

Bolick, however, criticized Patrick's work during 1982-86 for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. He is now one of its directors.

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