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Image of the Virginia AG Seal

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING'S REMARKS FOR THE U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS

~ AG Herring is addressing the USCCR Open Public Comment Session: Evaluating Civil Rights Enforcement at 5:00 PM this afternoon ~

RICHMOND (November 2, 2018) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring will deliver the below remarks to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Open Public Comment Session: Evaluating Civil Rights Enforcement this afternoon at 5:00 PM in Washington, DC.

 

Below are Attorney General Herrings's remarks as prepared:

Ladies and gentlemen of the Commission I am Mark Herring, the Attorney General of Virginia, here tonight on behalf of the people of Virginia, as well as several fellow state attorneys general who intend to submit supplemental written comments.

 

It’s a particular honor to me to address this body because my great uncle Robert S. Rankin served on this commission from 1960 to 1976 and the Commission’s library bears his name.

 

Over the last several decades, individual Americans and state governments have been able to rely on the federal government as a partner in the shared mission to secure and vindicate civil rights. Sadly, it seems this reliance and expectation is no longer well-founded, and this relationship is fracturing.

 

One of President Trump’s first Executive Orders attempted to enact a “Muslim ban” that violated the constitutional rights of many living in our nation, and raised fear among American Muslims and other minority communities that they could find themselves the next target of government-sanctioned and mandated discrimination.

 

These fears have proven well-founded, as we have witnessed further efforts to undermine cherished civil rights, including deeply troubling talk in recent days about Executive Orders to nullify the 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship.

 

The Department of Education under Secretary Betsey DeVos is trying to undo years of progress led by Chairwoman Lhamon and others to combat sexual violence on college campuses and ensure the right to pursue an education in a safe and equal environment.

 

The CFPB and HUD have reversed or rolled-back rules and regulations that ensure minorities are not subjected to unconstitutional discrimination when trying to securing housing or loans.

 

And this administration is currently presiding over one of the most frightening surges in anti-Semitism and white supremacist violence in recent memory. And where the peddlers of hate and violence should have been met with swift consequences and clear condemnation from political and community leaders, they instead have heard indifference, equivocation, tacit approval or worse.

 

My colleagues and I have successfully sued to block many of the most egregious moves by this administration, relying on the courts to protect our citizens’ rights FROM actions by the federal government. We have also worked to pick up the slack where we can through programs or enforcement actions, though we work with more limited resources, jurisdiction, and authority than those available to federal agencies.

 

Simply put, this is not the way it should be, and it is not a sustainable model for protecting our citizens’ rights. We need to again be able to rely on the federal government to be a partner in protecting the civil rights of our citizens, rather than a threat to them.

 

As the Commission continues its work, I would encourage you to be bold and be honest about the realities of civil rights in the United States, and the sources of threats to those rights. It is clear to me, many of my constituents, and many of my colleagues that there is reason for alarm. A clear-eyed, impartial declaration of the threat to civil rights in America would be a courageous and necessary step that history will surely judge favorably.

 

I thank you again for your time and diligence. As the top law enforcement officers of our states, my colleagues and I stand ready to assist you in any way possible.

 

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