LDF Director of Policy Todd Cox issued the following statement in response to the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing scheduled for September 6, 2017. For this single hearing, Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has listed five nominees, including two circuit court nominees, two district court nominees, and the nominee to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Eric Dreiband.
This is an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional obligation to seriously evaluate nominees, and a complete disregard for the enormous impact that life-tenured judges and the officials charged with enforcing our civil rights laws have on the lives of all Americans. Rather than ensuring that judicial nominees have the competence, temperament, and independence to uphold the rule of law, Chairman Grassley has turned the Judiciary Committee into a rubber stamp so President Trump can appoint as many judges as possible. During the full eight years that President Obama was in office, there were only three confirmation hearings with two circuit court nominees. This will be the second Grassley has called since Trump took office in January.
It is especially insulting that Grassley has lumped Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Eric Dreiband, into the same hearing as four judicial nominees. After the acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists in Charlottesville that President Trump continues to blame on “both sides,” Grassley and other Senate Republicans assured Americans that they oppose white supremacy and believe it has no place in society. But those words mean nothing if Grassley is going to stack confirmation hearings to ease the path for nominees, like Dreiband, with long records of hostility toward civil rights and racial justice. In this moment the Justice Department should be under a magnifying glass, and the American people deserve answers about whether and how this administration will enforce federal civil rights laws. Yet rather than confront these issues it appears Grassley would rather defer to Trump and avoid them entirely. This unfair and deficient process provides yet another reason for the Senate to reject Dreiband’s nomination.
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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.