Monday, January 14, 2019

Civil Rights Advocates Dispute Barr AG Nomination (AUDIO)

Produced by Charlotte Robinson

In this exclusive audio podcast Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ participated in a press conference call hosted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to discuss the need for the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine whether Attorney General nominee William Barr is committed to upholding the civil rights of all people. With Barr’s confirmation hearings beginning on Tuesday January 15th it is crucial that the nation’s top law enforcement officer and leader of the U.S. Department of Justice is committed to our country’s ongoing progress toward equal justice. Civil rights leaders joining the call were Kristine Lucius, Executive Vice President for Policy, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Michael Collins, Director of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance, Avideh Moussavian, Legislative Director, National Immigration Law Center and Sharon McGowan, Chief Strategy Officer and Legal Director, Lambda Legal.

First Kristine Lucius from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights stated, “Under former Attorney General Sessions, we saw nearly unbridled disdain for the Justice Department’s vital role as the nation’s primary agency for protecting people’s rights. For nearly two years, Sessions destroyed families and communities by attacking voting rights, restarting the War on Drugs, failing to enforce constitutional policing policies, rolling back protections for LGBTQ individuals and justifying officials separating children from their parents and locking immigrant children in cages. William Barr’s record suggests more of the same. Our families and communities deserve better and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have an obligation to seek assurances from Mr. Barr that he will not be Sessions 2.0.” Then Janai Nelson, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., added, “If confirmed, William Barr will inherit the abominable legacy of Jeff Sessions, who established policies that undermined and attacked the civil rights of communities of color. The Trump Justice Department has dismantled racial diversity efforts and rescinded guidance on racial disparities in school discipline and special education, promoted voter suppression and abdicated its obligation to protect the civil rights of persons who encounter the criminal justice system. Senators must determine whether Barr will continue to weaponize the Justice Department and eviscerate civil rights protections or whether his record suggests that he can repair and restore integrity and fairness to the Justice Department and ensure that all persons are treated equally under the law.

Next we heard from Michael Collins, Drug Policy Alliance, who added, “Trump is appointing someone who has long been a cheerleader for mass incarceration and the war on drugs. It shows the Administration’s true colors and undermines any recent criminal justice reforms. During this nomination process, I hope that Senators from both parties take Barr to task for his retrograde views on drug policy and criminal justice, instead of giving him an easy ride like they did with Jeff Sessions.” Then Avideh Moussavian, National Immigration Law Center stated, “William Barr’s own track record and his unmitigated support for former Attorney General Sessions is cause for serious alarm. In his own right, Barr has supported border militarization, criminalization of migrants, and subjecting vulnerable populations of HIV+ Haitian asylum seekers to indefinite detention. His open praise for Sessions -- from explicitly supporting the first and most egregious version of Trump's Muslim ban to implicitly supporting policies to turn immigration judges into mass deportation agents and forcibly cage thousands of children in order to coerce their parents to abandon their legal right to claim asylum -- shows he will continue to weaponize the role of the DOJ and Attorney General to devastate the rights of those who most need its protection.” Then we heard from Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal and former senior official in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice who concluded, “Jeff Sessions transformed the Department of Justice from a guardian of civil rights into a weapon of discrimination and bigotry and William Barr has made clear that he is eager to pick up where Sessions left off. As Attorney General under George H.W. Bush, Barr defended what CBS News described as ‘the world’s first and only detention camp for refugees with HIV’ and only just a few weeks ago, William Barr ‘saluted’ Jeff Sessions for his efforts to nullify legal protections for LGBT people. The Department of Justice needs new leadership to get it back in the business of defending civil rights and equal justice under law for all people. William Barr, through his own words and actions, has proven himself unworthy for this important role.”

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. (Graphic by Richard Emmanuel)



Sarah Kate Ellis GLAAD President & CEO said...

William Barr, who has wrongfully suggested that LGBTQ people – not Trump and his destructive policies – have harmed the United States, is the latest in a long line of replacements who President Trump has appointed to his Cabinet who are just as anti-LGBTQ as their predecessors. If confirmed, there’s little doubt that William Barr would continue the Trump Administration’s objective of erasing LGBTQ Americans from the fabric of this nation.

Marilyn Rosen said...

After listening to this conference call, I realize how important it is today for the Senate to stand up finally and stand up for our way of life, protecting and assuring equal rights for all by voting down William Barr as AG of our beloved country. Sessions was frightening enough and already did harm, but Barr will be positioned to finish the job of rescinding rights to protect the marginalized group that are an intrinsic part of who we are as a people and a country.

Chad Griffin President HRC said...

William Barr has made clear that as Attorney General he would not defend and uphold civil rights laws for all Americans — including LGBTQ people. This nominee is all too ready to follow in the footsteps of Jeff Sessions and double down on this administration’s relentless attacks on LGBTQ equality. The Senate must reject Barr’s nomination, and Senators must make clear to the Trump-Pence White House they will only confirm a nominee who will treat all Americans equally with the dignity and fairness they deserve.