An executive order is simply that: a unilateral decree dictated by the president, which is neither voted on by Congress nor even subjected to advance public notice and comment. Bill Clinton has issued more executive orders than any other American president, and as his last term in office winds down, his executive orders are increasing in both number and boldness.
One of his latest executive orders, announced at a California event at 7 p.m. Eastern time on a Friday, expands Title IX, the law barring sex discrimination in education, to all federally conducted education and training programs. Contrary to the express intent of Congress in enacting Title IX, the new executive order requires federal agencies and private contractors who deal with them to ensure that women are not “underrepresented” in educational or training programs.
Congress and the public would never have approved such an extreme and unwarranted result is 50/50 gender quotas, but then, that’s exactly why the president chose to achieve it by executive order, as the history of this particular executive order clearly demonstrates.
In June 1997, President Clinton celebrated the 25th anniversary of Title IX with a Rose Garden ceremony and instructions to Attorney General Janet Reno to issue regulations expanding Title IX. Through 1998, Mr. Clinton and Miss Reno were busy with the investigations arising out of the Lewinsky scandal. But in February 1999, two days after the U.S. Senate failed to convict the president, the Justice Department circulated to other federal agencies its long-anticipated draft rules to expand Title IX.
The Independent Women’s Forum and other civil rights organizations and experts analyzed the draft rules. What they found was an overreaching and unnecessary affirmative action program with no accountability or reporting mechanism. The proposed rules would allow any agency bureaucrat to institute affirmative action quotas for women whenever they were “under-represented” in a program. (Interestingly the rules would never operate to scale back female presence in programs where they are over-represented.)
More significantly, the new rules also expand the definition of “recipient” in a manner that could subject private organizations and corporations dealing with the federal government to the same quota system. Further the quota remedy can be applied even when there is no evidence or complaint of sex discrimination. And the rule expressly covers federally-supported academic programs (not just sports).
Of course Congress would never have approved the regulations as proposed. Several federal agencies found the proposal so extreme that even they balked at adopting it.
Faced with these difficulties, Mr. Clinton did what he has done so often: He issued an executive order to accomplish the very results that Congress would have rejected and the more fair-minded members of his own administration had criticized.
When Congress passed Title IX, it could not have been more clear that common sense was supposed to rule the enforcement of this law. Unfortunately, in America today, King Clinton, not common sense, is the absolute ruler.
This article appeared in The Washington Times.