The Center for Individual Rights
1233 20th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) is a conservative
public interest law firm with links to the Pioneer Fund. CIR is
best known for Hopwood v. Texas, the case that struck down
affirmative action in higher education in Texas, Louisiana and
Mississippi. Hopwood eventually went to the U.S. Supreme
Court which upheld the lower court ruling against Affirmative
Action in 1996. The organization first appeared in the late 1980s
taking on anti-environmentalist and anti-media cases. They recently
initiated two law suits against affirmative action policies at
the University of Michigan.
CIR has gained a reputation as "the legal
arm" of the rising anti-PC campaign on campuses. They were
introduced to this field of activity in the early 1990s with the
help of two Pioneer Fund Grantees - Michael Levin and Linda Gottfredson.
CIR subsequently received Pioneer grants for $30,000 (the first
was approved as of January 8, 1992). Courtney Leatherman reported
in the Chronicle of Higher Education (23 November 1994):
The center has also received $30,000 from
the Pioneer Fund, a group that is controversial for its support
of studies of possible genetic differences between blacks
and whites. You would never know of its gifts by looking at
C.I.R.s financial disclosure statement. They are under
the name of the funds president, Harry F. Weyher. That
is the only gift from a foundation listed that way. [CIR executive
director Michael] Greve says the omission of the foundations
name was an oversight, not an effort to hide anything.
These grants were small in relation to both total
Pioneer Fund grants and to CIRs spending, but the Gottfredson-Levin
controversies were important cases in CIRs emergence as
an anti-PC center. Questions about the Pioneer Fund had arisen
especially in the Gottfredson case, so one might expect that,
whatever the truth of Greves claims, CIR knew who they were
dealing with when they took the money.
CIR was created around the time of the 1988 elections.
Articles of incorporation were filed in D.C. (signed 8 November
1988), which issued a certificate of incorporation on November
10th. The initial registered agent was Michael P. McDonald
and the initial registered office was 1400 20th Street,
NW, No. 615 (his Dupont Circle Apt).
Officers are listed in CIRs 1989 annual
report to the D.C. government:
President: Michael P. McDonald
Secretary Michael S Greve
Treasurer: M.P. McDonald
Michael P. McDonald:
McDonald is CIRs president and a member
of its board of directors. He was born to working class Democratic
Party parents in Washington, D.C. about 1957, graduating from
Catholic University of America in 1978 and George Washington University
National Law Center in 1982.
He has spent his whole career since 1982 (except
for a short time in the U.S. Justice Department) working in conservative
D.C. public-interest law firms. Out of law school he took a job
with Washington Legal Foundation, which was then a center of the
emerging network of right-wing public-interest law firms. He moved
to the Justice Department for short while and then became general
counsel of the American Legal Foundation, which was founded in
December, 1980 by Daniel J. Popeo. ALFs office was in the
Washington Legal Foundations row-house at 1705 N St. NW.
ALFs executive director (circa 1982-83) was Michael A. Carvin,
the future CIR board member. ALF remained small, employing only
two attorneys in 1983. Uniquely among the new conservative public
interest law firms, it specialized in media issues and was intended
to serve the then-gathering right-wing ideological campaign against
the media. While at ALF, McDonald sort of made a name as a plaintiffs'
attorney in anti-media libel cases. His policy then was anti-libertarian.
In 1986 WLF absorbed the ALF and McDonald rejoined WLF, at one
point becoming its president. He left WLF to form CIR.
Michael S. Greve
Michael S Greve is CIRs executive director.
He was born in West Germany about 1957. He holds a degree in political
science from Hamburg University (1981) and the same year came
to the U.S. on a Fulbright scholarship. Wakefield (1995) says
"he was raised as a Social Democrat," but Kornhouser
(1991) has him saying he came to the U.S. as "a refugee from
the German welfare state." He got an M.A. (1985) and Ph.D.
(1987) in government from Cornell, where he was a student of Jeremy
Rabkin and a research associate in Rabkins Program on Courts
and Public Policy. He joined the staff of the Washington Legal
Foundation, where he worked with Michael McDonald. He has been
at CIR since it was founded. He has also taught at Hunter College
and John Jay College and has been a program officer at the Smith
Richardson Foundation. Dinesh DSousa thanks him for leads
and comments in the acknowledgements for The End of Racism
Board of Directors
CIRs articles of incorporation list the
initial board of directors as:
Michael P. McDonald
Michael A. Carvin (1627 I St. NW, Washington, D.C.)
Jeremy Rabkin (Department of Government, Cornell University)
Michael A. Carvin
Carvin was born September 29, 1956 in Bronxville,
NY. He graduated from Tulane (B.A. 1978) and George Washington
University Law Center (J.D. 1982), where he was on the law review.
He probably met Michael McDonald in law school. He was admitted
to the D.C. bar in 1982. Like McDonald, he went to work for American
Legal Foundation, where he was executive director. In 1983 he
took a job with Wm. Bradford Reynold in the Civil Rights Division,
U.S. Justice Department. At Civil Rights he worked with Deputy
Assistant Attorney General Charles J. Cooper, one of Reynolds
most visible and controversial assistants. Cooper played an important
role in Carvins later career and worked with CIR. In 1987,
Carvin was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the
Office of Legal Counsel, which Cooper had headed since 1985. At
OLC he worked on Robert Borks confirmation hearings. Ethan
Bonner wrote in his 1989 book, Battle for Justice (Norton
Michael Carvin, of the Office of Legal Counsel,
wrote a [pro-Bork] op-ed piece for the president that got
sent back continually for changes and ultimately was not distributed
Just over 30, a graduate of Tulane and George
Washington University Law School, Carvin was one of the Justice
Departments bright young stars. He was Brad Reynolds'
protege, having worked as Reynolds' assistant on civil rights
for five years. Carvin was big and blond with a penchant for
eating cartons of junk food at his desk as he worked late
into the evening, his shirt untucked, tie knot yanked six
inches below his neck. He had a mordant wit. A New Yorker,
Carvin remembered passionate political discussions around
his familys dinner table. He was as devoted to a right-wing
judicial agenda as could be imagined and would get enraged
over hypocrisy or cowardice.
Asked once about the Supreme Courts
role in protecting groups such as blacks and Hispanics. .
.Carvin shot back: "You want to talk about discrete
and insular minorities? You know which ones I would
protect? First, fetuses. Second, 19-year-old Italian-Americans
in New Jersey who cant get jobs in their own fire departments
because of affirmative action. . . To me, those are discrete
and insular minorities."
Toward the end of the Reagan administration, Carvin
became a senior associate at the D.C. law firm of McGuire, Woods,
Battle and Boothe, where Charles Cooper had become a partner.
CIR was founded during this period. Both Carvin and Cooper became
partners (c. 1991-93) at Shaw, Potts and Trowbridge. William Bradford
Reynolds had been a litigation partner at Shaw, Pittman until
Carvin continued to work with Cooper after they
entered private practice. When Cooper contracted to provide independent
legal advice for the Legal Services Corporation in late 1988 and
1989, Carvin worked closely with him. They provided, inter
alia, opinions on LSCs independence and constitutionality.
(Cooper's fee on this was $200 an hour, Carvin's $130). House
Democrats questioned the propriety of this arrangement in LSC's
July 1989 reauthorization hearings.
Carvin is also chairman of CIR's Lawyer's Committee
and has litigated some its cases. In January 1991 he argued Lamprecht
v. FCC in the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. In October
1993 he argued Harding v. Gray, a reverse discrimination
case filed by a white carpenter at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, before
the D.C. Circuit Court. He also worked on Henry Painting Co.
v. Ohio State University, a minority contracting set-asides
Jeremy Allen Rabkin received his B.A. from Cornell
in 1974 after which he did graduate work in government at Harvard.
During the Summer of 1976, he had a grant from the Office of Civil
Rights, HEW. While still a graduate student, he worked at the
American Enterprise Institute (c. 1978-79), where he was on the
staff of its journal, Regulation. After completing his
Ph.D. in 1983, he returned to the Cornell government department.