129 Civil Rights Groups Counsel AG Sessions to Uphold a Strong Civil Rights Division

Categories: Civil Rights Enforcement, Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Contact: Shin Inouye, 202.869.0398, inouye@civilrights.org

WASHINGTON – Today, 129 civil rights groups sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlining the importance of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the necessary qualities of the individual who should lead that office.

“The Civil Rights Division and its eleven sections have the critical responsibility of enforcing our nation’s federal civil rights laws. Its mission is to provide equal treatment and equal justice under the law by enforcing and defending the civil rights of all Americans in such areas as voting, criminal justice, education, employment, housing, and public accommodations. Our federal civil rights laws have transformed the nation, outlawing discrimination in nearly every facet of American life,” the letter states.

The letter goes on to assert that the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights must have the following qualifications:

  • a track record of aggressively and affirmatively enforcing federal civil rights laws;
  • a willingness to defend against dilution or weakening of these laws and against unnecessary funding and staffing cuts;
  • an understanding of the traditions and operations of the Civil Rights Division;
  • experience affirmatively litigating cases in federal court across civil rights subject areas;
  • the ability to manage effectively and lead a large organization; and
  • a deep commitment to the important and historic mission of ensuring that our nation lives up to its promise of equality and justice for all.

“The Civil Rights Division has been rightfully called the ‘crown jewel’ of the Department of Justice,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.  “This is true only when the Division lives up to its mandate to preserve and protect the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans.  While much progress has been made, important work remains – and that must be accomplished regardless of which party controls the White House.”

Notably, the letter was sent to Sessions during the same month that the Department of Justice has reversed course on key civil rights issues including voting rights, private prison use, and the protection of transgender students.

The full letter is linked here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference, visit www.civilrights.org.