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Jewish Leaders Try to Assure Bush That Bill Doesn’t Call for Quotas

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Representatives of two Jewish organizations tried Wednesday to convince President Bush that a major civil rights bill now before Congress would not result in establishing minority hiring quotas.

But a representative of a third Jewish group told the president that his organization opposes passage of the Kennedy-Hawkins Civil Rights Act of 1990, at least as it now stands.

The bill is aimed at restoring protection against racial or religious job discrimination that supporters believe were weakened by several Supreme Court decisions last year.

Bush has been trying to find a way of supporting the legislation.

At a news conference Wednesday, the president said he hopes to narrow differences on the legislation. “We’re working hard to get agreement,” he said.

One of the president’s main concerns is that the bill would result in quotas.

But both Meyer Eisenberg, chairman of the National Legal Affairs Committee of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and Judith Golub, assistant Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee, told Bush on Wednesday that their groups would not be supporting the legislation if they thought it would lead to quotas.

However, David Zwiebel, general counsel for Agudath Israel of America, told Bush the Orthodox group is opposed to the bill unless some changes can be made.

He said language was needed to get around what he called the “conservative corporate counsel” factor.

He explained that such counsels would “advise their clients to play it safe and adopt a de facto quota system” to avoid the possibility of liability.

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