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Reagan removes 3 to make way for rights appointees

President Reagan, in an extraordinary use of executive power, removed three members of the US Civil Rights Commission to make room for his own nominees, the White House said Tuesday.

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The action reflected a continuing impasse in the Senate that has left the commission without budget authorization since Sept. 30, the end of the last fiscal year.

''The issue at stake in this matter is not the removal of certain individuals or the Civil Rights Commission itself,'' a White House statement said. ''The issue is the responsibility of the President to exercise the power given to him by law. It is the constitutional power of appointment, so long a part of the American political tradition, that is at stake here.''

Mr. Reagan had sought to replace Democratic holdovers Mary Francis Berry, Blandina Cardenas Ramirez, and Rabbi Murray Saltzman. His three nominees are also Democrats, but share his opposition to busing and affirmative-action quotas.

Various options had been reviewed on how to break the impasse - including enlarging the commission, staggering the terms, and retaining the current commissioners.

''His outright firing of three commissioners will bring a torrent of criticism down on his head,'' said Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D) of Texas. ''It's obvious he is trying to preempt cooperation between Republican senators and Democratic senators in [their] effort to reach a compromise on this issue.''

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