LCCR Statement on the Resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: Looking Forward

Media 08.28,07

Washington – The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest and largest civil and human rights coalition, released the following statement on the resignation of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general:

“Rarely has public confidence in the Office of the Attorney General been at such a low ebb for so long. But with Alberto Gonzales’ resignation yesterday, the White House is presented with a new opportunity to regain the public’s trust and create a Justice Department that will rededicate itself to being the premier enforcer of civil rights laws and realizing the dream of equality.

In pursuit of that goal, we believe that the next Attorney General’s priorities must include vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws in the following areas:

  • Voting. Ensuring that the Department of Justice is fully and vigorously enforcing the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, with a focus on increasing, not diminishing, access to the political process for racial, ethnic and language minorities.
  • Housing. Working to achieve full and effective enforcement of our nation’s fair housing laws, including promoting access and integration in federally funded and supported housing programs. The Department should also use its existing authority to ensure equal access to credit especially for low and middle-income borrowers.
  • Employment Discrimination. Reinvigorating the Department’s work to combat employment discrimination, including a return to its work to defend federal affirmative action programs from attack and to protecting the rights of African American and Latino workers.
  • Education. Engaging in thoughtful work to help school districts continue to promote diversity in education within the parameters set out by the Supreme Court.
  • Law enforcement accountability. Ensuring that police departments across the country are held accountable for practices, such as systemic police misconduct and racial profiling, that undermine public confidence and erode their effectiveness.
  • Immigration. Review immigration cases with care, utilizing lawyers and judges with expertise in that area of the law.

These priorities not only reflect the commitment of the civil rights community, but also the historic, if neglected, mission of the civil rights division within the Justice Department

Next month will mark the 50th anniversary of the division’s creation. In recognition of that achievement, the Leadership Conference will launch a campaign, Reclaim Civil Rights, to highlight how civil rights enforcement was a necessary component to the realizing of the dream of equality for millions of Americans, but also the retreat from rigorous enforcement in recent years. Please visit the site when it launches on September 5, 2007.”