Trump’s Civil Rights Division Is Failing Our Democracy

Contact: Shin Inouye, [email protected], 202.869.0398

WASHINGTON – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the House Judiciary Committee’s oversight hearing on the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Gupta previously ran the division under President Obama:

“The Civil Rights Division, which I once had the honor to lead, has been called ‘the crown jewel’ of the Justice Department. The division enforces our nation’s federal civil rights statutes enacted by Congress to prohibit discrimination and promote equal opportunity. Yet Donald Trump and Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr have undermined the department and the division, and indeed the very values the office is meant to uphold. Political leaders have hamstrung the outstanding career staff — the unsung guardians of our civil rights — so they are unable to vigorously enforce the law. Our democracy suffers as a result.

“The division, at its best, protects vulnerable communities, enforces laws, and touches every area of people’s lives around the country — from combatting police violence to fighting hate crimes to enforcing our voting rights to eliminating discrimination in housing, lending, education, public accommodations, and employment. But this administration has abdicated its responsibilities by failing to zealously enforce our civil rights laws and by reversing longstanding positions without the buy-in or judgment of nonpartisan, career lawyers who enforce the laws day-to-day. As a result, we have witnessed civil rights violations go unaddressed and the demoralization of staff at this critical federal agency.

“As Congress holds this oversight hearing, lawmakers must fully examine the damage inflicted by this administration and consider what must be done to ensure the Justice Department lives up to its name.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 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 and its member organizations, visit