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Statement In Response to the Senate Judiciary Committee Confirmation Hearing of Eric Dreiband, the Nominee to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

9/06/17

Statement In Response to the Senate Judiciary Committee Confirmation Hearing of
Eric Dreiband, 
the Nominee to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

In response to the hearing on the nomination of Eric Dreiband to lead the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Todd Cox, Director of Policy of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), released the following statement:

In what should have been a day-long hearing dedicated to the enormous responsibility of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to confront today’s civil rights challenges, Eric Dreiband instead faced limited questioning about his long and troubling record opposing civil rights protections.

This was entirely by design. Instead of allowing for sufficient time, resources, and attention to scrutinize Dreiband’s views, Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley stacked the hearing with four other nominees—including two nominees to the federal courts of appeals. In employing such tactics, Senator Grassley abdicated the Senate’s constitutional duty to evaluate nominees and exacerbated the Trump Administration’s relentless attacks on civil rights. We urge senators to ask in written questions what they were unable to ask in person today.

Yet even with limited questioning, Dreiband’s testimony confirmed that he is unfit to enforce our nation’s civil rights laws. When questioned on whether employers should be allowed to fire employees based on their sexual orientation, he failed to provide a clear answer. When questioned on whether federal law should protect the right of transgender students to access the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity, he could not provide a straightforward response. And when questioned about voting rights, he declined to condemn and dismiss the pernicious lies that in-person voter fraud is a widespread problem and that “millions” of people voted illegally in the 2016 election. These lies, peddled by President Trump and the leaders of his so-called “election integrity” commission, are routinely used to justify discriminatory policies that disenfranchise Black and Latino voters.

Americans deserve assurances that the person leading the Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce civil rights laws on behalf of our most vulnerable and marginalized communities, even—indeed, especially—in the face of an administration that actively promotes discrimination. They received no such assurances today. 

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.