CAC letter in support of Kristen Clarke’s confirmation to be the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division
The United States Department of Justice (“DOJ” or “the Department”) should be guided by the principle that Thomas Jefferson believed was the “most sacred of the duties of government”: “to do equal and impartial justice” to all. The Department plays a critical role in our country’s noble pursuit of equal and impartial justice, helping to realize values embedded in the Constitution and codified in a long list of federal statutes that help implement constitutional guarantees.
At the heart of the Department’s mission to provide and promote justice lies the Civil Rights Division. Created in 1957, the Civil Rights Division (“Division”) “works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The Division enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), disability, religion, familial status, national origin, and citizenship status;” challenges discriminatory laws and policies in court; and proactively develops policy and legislative proposals. Therefore, to help move DOJ closer to the promise of equal justice under law for all, the Assistant Attorney General who leads the Division must have a certain set of qualifications: a deep commitment to the core constitutional principles of liberty, equality, and fairness; a history of defending and/or advancing substantive fundamental rights; and a demonstrated willingness to respect the whole Constitution and the values therein, whatever their own policy preferences, or those of the President.
Kristen Clarke, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, has had a career that exemplifies the qualities necessary for the job for which she has been nominated. From a young age she committed herself to being “a person who could use the power of the law to stand up for vulnerable communities.” And when speaking of the Department of Justice, she noted that it “is to stand above the political fray and ensure that its work is carried out with faithfulness to the rule of law.”
Ms. Clarke would bring a breadth of experience and civil rights leadership to the Division. After graduating from Columbia Law School, Ms. Clarke began her career in the prestigious Honors Program at DOJ. She then served for six years as a career attorney in the Civil Rights Division—the same office she has now been nominated to lead. There she worked in the Division’s Voting Section and handled voting rights and redistricting cases. She also served in the division’s Criminal Section, where she prosecuted police misconduct cases, hate crimes, and human trafficking cases. Having been a career attorney in the Division, Ms. Clarke would bring to the post a deep knowledge of the office’s mission and the urgency of aggressively enforcing our nation’s federal civil rights laws.