Statement on Appointment to the United States Commission on Civil Rights

I am humbled by President Trump appointing me to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The Commission has a long noble history of serving as a defender of civil rights – from ending Jim Crow to ensuring that the promises of the Civil War amendments are fulfilled.  This nation endured a ferocious upheaval to enact the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. All of the sunk wealth and calamity of a civil war were a high price indeed for these three amendments.  We owe it to the generation that made them possible to fulfill the aims of these amendments.  But we also owe the generations before that one, the ones that secured the blessings of liberty and domestic tranquility – the rights to worship, to speak freely without fear of violence, and the right to pursue a living – to preserve those rights.

This hard year has refocused many Americans on basic civil rights we had long taken for granted. The right to assemble and worship, the right to be free from excessive force, the right of self-defense and the right to pursue the American dream no matter if you live in Fairfax, Virginia, coal country Pennsylvania or the south side of Chicago.  I have a demonstrated history of defending the civil rights of Americans regardless of skin color.  I have brought and won civil rights cases that others would not – from Guam, to Mississippi to defending the integrity of our elections.

Everyone is entitled to civil rights, and too many for too long have had a too narrow view of that question.  I hope to use my time on the Commission to reinvigorate a broader understanding of what our great Constitution has promised is a civil right.  Every American should be free to pursue their dreams.  In 2020, we see how those rights can be threatened in ways we did not imagine just a decade ago.  From free speech, to the right to run a business in Minneapolis, from the right to gather in church, to the right to support candidates for office free from fear, 2020 has presented new challenges and therefore new obligations on those who defend civil rights.