LIVE STREAMING
Kristen Clarke was confirmed Tuesday, May 25, as the first Black woman head of DOJ Civil Rights Division. Photo: Tom Williams/Getty Images
Kristen Clarke was confirmed Tuesday, May 25, as the first Black woman head of DOJ Civil Rights Division. Photo: Tom Williams/Getty Images

Kristen Clarke’s confirmation as the DOJ’s Civil Rights Chief came at the perfect time

Clarke will now be in charge of investigating abuses of police force, and enforcing voting rights laws along with federal bans on discrimination.

MORE IN THIS SECTION

Pierluisi joins Jones call

September 28th, 2022

Latinas talk Abortion in TX

September 28th, 2022

Run Away Ken

September 28th, 2022

Ian heads to Florida

September 27th, 2022

Tax Reform in Chile

September 26th, 2022

An org's language resolve

September 26th, 2022

Waive the Jones Act

September 26th, 2022

Gun Control in FL?

September 26th, 2022

SHARE THIS CONTENT:

On Tuesday, May 25, the Senate narrowly confirmed Kristen Clarke as the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) civil rights chief, making her the first Black woman to fill the distinguished role. 

The vote was 51-48, and Sen. Susan Collins was the only Republican that voted in support of President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead a powerful division of the Justice Department.

As the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Clarke will be in charge of investigating abuses and violations within the police force, enforcing voting rights laws and federal statutes that prohibit discrimination based on identity factors, such as race, gender, or religion.

Clarke is taking on the position at a critical time for the DOJ, as high-profile instances of police brutality and the deaths of Black citizens have led to months of massive protests and increased calls for reform. 

Clarke’s confirmation hearing was notably held on the same day in 2020 that George Floyd was murdered by ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin. 

Clarke has worked as a civil rights attorney for many years, and previously led the Civil Rights Bureau at the New York Attorney General’s Office. 

In 2015, she was placed in charge of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, during a time when the organization filed more than 250 lawsuits on voting rights, hate crimes, education and housing, among other areas. 

“Having known Kristen for more than two decades and most recently serving as her top deputy, I know she is exactly the person we need at this moment when threats to civil rights have peaked,” Damon Hewitt, acting president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement. 

Clarke was ceremonially sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris at the Justice Department on the evening of May 25. In a statement before the ceremony, Harris spokesperson Symone Sanders praised Clarke as a “timeless champion of equal justice.” 

"This is a historic moment because for the first time since its creation, following the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the confirmed Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights will be a woman, and will be a Black woman, and that is Kristen Clarke," Sanders said.

Clarke is a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Jamaica. She earned degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University School of Law. 

Senate Republicans have been adamantly opposed to Clarke, claiming that previous statements she has made on issues like voting rights, religious liberty and policing have caused them to question her commitment to being a nonpartisan enforcer of civil rights. 

"A vote for Kristen Clarke is a vote to defund the police," Sen. Tom Cotton said before the vote on May 25.

Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Mitch McConnell also declined to support Clarke’s nomination, alluding to her views on police reform. 

“This is not the right nominee for a crucial post at a crucial time," McConnell said on Monday, May 24, pointing to the recent rise in violent crime across the U.S.

During a recent hearing on untraceable firearms, Cruz used his platform to criticize both Clarke and Vanita Gupta, the first woman of color to become associate attorney general, labeling them both as “radicals.” 

In an interview with CNN last week, Hawley said that he shared the same viewpoint as Cruz, saying that “the pattern of nominees by this administration have a very sort of radical leftist background.” 

Clarke, however, clarified her previous statements on police reform, saying that she does not support a complete defunding of the entire police force, but would rather see more funds be distributed to social programs that would lead to a reduction in crime. 

“I do support finding strategies to ensure that law enforcement can carry out their jobs more safely and effectively and channeling resources to emotional health treatment and other severely under-resourced areas,” Clarke said in response to a question from Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin. 

Many of Clarke’s advocates stated their beliefs that she faced a tougher path to confirmation due to her race. 

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, told CNN that he also thinks the roadblocks and harsh critiques are due to her Blackness. 

“I think it’s race, there is no other way to describe it,” he said. "When you compare that to the appointments that the former administration presented, and how under qualified they were for the positions especially for lifetime appointments to the federal bench, you can't draw any other conclusion but [that] it is racially motivated."

Whether her tough journey was racially motivated or not, Clarke has been confirmed, and is stepping into a significant role during a time where civil rights are under attack. 

Voter suppression, police brutality, assaults against Asian-Americans, reproductive injustice, and the ongoing attacks on the rights of transgender youth need to be addressed. 

"Our nation is a healthier place when we respect the rights of all communities. In every role I've held, I have worked for and with people of all backgrounds — regardless of race, national origin, religion and disability status," Clarke said. 

  • LEAVE A COMMENT:

  • Join the discussion! Leave a comment.

  • or
  • REGISTER
  • to comment.
  • LEAVE A COMMENT:

  • Join the discussion! Leave a comment.

  • or
  • REGISTER
  • to comment.
00:00 / 00:00
Ads destiny link