Biden’s win means a civil rights lawyer will lead civil rights enforcement | Commentary

Black voters who elected President Joe Biden hoped for real change. We get it.

Kristen Clarke is one of the most effective civil rights attorneys in the country. She has addressed issues such as police accountability, fair housing, educational and economic opportunities, and the school-prison pipeline. And Biden has nominated her to lead civil rights enforcement for the federal government.

Clarke is president of the Civil Rights Advisory Board, a historic and important civil rights group. She has worked in the US Department of Justice and headed the civil rights office in the New York Attorney General’s office. She helped expose Trump’s bogus electoral integrity commission, which was supposed to create justifications for the suppression of voters. And it resisted the Trump administration’s efforts to corrupt the 2020 census.

Clarke says she was inspired by Thurgood Marshall, the first black justice system on the US Supreme Court, and Constance Baker Motley, the first black woman to argue a case in the Supreme Court and become the first to serve as a federal judge.

Clarke will become the first black woman to head the Department of Justice’s civil rights division. At times in our history, this split has played an important role in protecting the constitutional principle of equality under the law. Under former President Donald Trump, the division became a shell of its former self.

It changes. When Biden announced the appointment of Clarke and other senior Justice Department officials, he called the Civil Rights Division “the Justice Department’s moral center.”

In her remarks on the acceptance of the nomination, Clarke promised her commitment to the basic constitutional principle of equality. “The call for equal justice under the law unites us as a nation,” she said. “Now I am honored to be working again with dedicated career professionals who work every day to bring this principle to life in families like mine, in the life of my son, and in the lives of all of our sons and daughters. ”

A veteran civil rights activist, Clarke knows the forces she is up against and is not afraid to challenge them.

In January, she announced that the Legal Committee had sued the violent extremist Proud Boys and their members for the racist attack on the historic Metropolitan AME Church following a day of pro-Trump protests in Washington, DC, in December.

She has called on members of Congress to advocate the “false and unsubstantiated claim that something is wrong with the 2020 elections”.

This type of truth-finding is not always welcomed in Washington.

You won’t be surprised to know that not everyone celebrates Clarke’s nomination. Not everyone wants a strong split in civil rights. Some people agreed with the Trump administration’s hands-off approach to police accountability and civil rights enforcement. And some of them try to smear Clarke and other women of color whom Biden has appointed to senior positions in the Justice Department.

Some Republican senators attempted to use the confirmation hearing for Attorney General Merrick Garland to attack Clarke. Garland couldn’t take it. When Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee from Clarke made hints of anti-Semitism, the Jewish Garland cut him off and defended Clarke’s integrity and commitment to equal justice. Garland told the Senators that he needed Clarke on his leadership team.

At the ceremony announcing her nomination, just one day after the deadly Capitol riot, Clarke said, “We are at a crossroads. If I’m lucky enough to be vindicated, we’ll turn the page on hate and close the door on discrimination by enforcing our federal civil rights laws. “

Amen. This is a page that needs to be turned over and a door that needs to be closed! Senators from both sides of the aisle should recognize that Clarke is an excellent choice for the position. I am confident that it will overcome all party political objections raised against it. And I look forward to seeing them at work.

Ben Jealous is President of the People For the American Way Foundation and People For the American Way Foundation.

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