[Congressional Record Volume 141, Number 71 (Tuesday, May 2, 1995)]
[Pages S5996-S5997]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, later this month, Ralph Neas will step 
down from his position as executive director of the Leadership 
Conference on Civil Rights, after 14 years of extraordinary service as 
a champion of the basic rights of all Americans.
  For nearly half a century, the Leadership Conference has been the 
Nation's conscience in meeting the fundamental challenge of protecting 
the civil rights of all of us. Ralph Neas joined the Leadership 
Conference in 1981, following 8 years of outstanding 
[[Page S5997]]  service to the Senate on the staffs of our former 
colleagues, Senators Edward Brooke and David Durenberger.
  During Ralph's tenure, the Leadership Conference fought some of its 
most difficult battles, and achieved some of its most important 
victories. Time and again, when the forces of reaction sought to turn 
back the clock on civil rights, Ralph Neas rallied the coalition, and 
civil rights prevailed.
  When the Reagan administration sought to block extension of the 
Voting Rights Act, Ralph Neas helped to put together a broad bipartisan 
majority in Congress to renew it.
  When the Supreme Court in the Grove City case carved a hole below the 
waterline in laws banning discrimination in Federal programs, Ralph 
Neas played an indispensable role in developing
 the two-thirds majority needed to pass the Civil Rights Restoration 
Act of 1988 over President Reagan's veto.

  When President Reagan nominated Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme 
Court, Ralph Neas assembled and led an extraordinary nationwide 
coalition which successfully opposed the nomination because of Judge 
Bork's hostility to protecting the constitutional rights and liberties 
of all Americans.
  When the Supreme Court in 1989 issued a series of rulings severely 
reducing protections for job discrimination, Ralph Neas worked closely 
with Republicans and Democrats to fashion legislation to restore the 
protections, and after one unfortunate veto by President Bush, Congress 
enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
  Under Ralph Neas' leadership, we gained ground on several other 
important fronts during those years as well. In 1988, Congress passed 
the Fair Housing Act Amendments to strengthen the law banning housing 
discrimination and extend its reach to ban discrimination against 
families with children and persons with disabilities.
  In 1990, we enacted the landmark American With Disabilities Act, 
providing comprehensive new protection for the rights of 43 million 
disabled Americans. Because of that law, fellow citizens across the 
country are finally learning that ``disabled'' does not mean 
  Ralph Neas' enormous energy, and his extraordinary talents as an 
advocate, strategist, and spokesperson, helped make each of those 
victories possible. Now he is leaving the Leadership Conference to 
practice law and to serve as a visiting professor at Georgetown 
University Law School.
  Ralph Neas is being honored at a gala dinner tomorrow evening, when 
he will receive the Hubert H. Humphrey Award for his outstanding 
achievements in making America a better and fairer land. Every citizen 
committed to the constitutional ideal of equal justice under law owes 
Ralph Neas a debt of gratitude for his brilliant public service.
  Truly, through all these years, Ralph Neas has been the 101st Senator 
for civil rights. As he leaves the Leadership Conference, I 
congratulate him on his outstanding accomplishments, and I extend my 
best wishes to Ralph and his wife Katy for continuing success in the 
years ahead.