Statement from Lourdes Rivera, Senior Vice President of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
We congratulate Kristen Clarke on her historic confirmation as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and are encouraged that a bipartisan majority of the Senate has recognized her robust record and experience as a civil rights attorney and leader.
Ms. Clarke brings unparalleled civil rights expertise and an unwavering commitment to equal justice to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division—the same Division where she began her career prosecuting hate crimes, police brutality, and voting rights cases. She has spent her entire career championing protections for civil and constitutional rights for all. Most recently, as President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Ms. Clarke worked to combat the rise in hate crimes and white supremacy, challenge voter suppression efforts, promote economic justice, and defend access to reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ rights.
This experience will be crucial in rebuilding the role of the DOJ Civil Rights Division in enforcing federal statutes and advancing litigation of key importance for reproductive rights and gender justice. This includes protecting abortion care providers and the rights of patients to have safe access to reproductive health care services, as well as challenging gender discrimination in employment and education.
Ms. Clarke is unquestionably qualified to serve as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Yet during her confirmation hearing, she was subjected to sexist and racist questions and attacks. We have now seen a pattern in the treatment of many of President Biden’s diverse nominees experiencing similar hostility based on their gender, race, and/or gender identity. We must name and condemn this blatant discrimination and unequal treatment, and call on all Senators to treat subsequent nominees with the dignity and respect that they deserve.
Ms. Clarke’s confirmation is groundbreaking—she is the first woman to be confirmed in this role and the first Black woman to hold this position—and her confirmation comes at a pivotal time. Our country is reckoning with racial injustice and an unprecedented crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic that is disproportionately affecting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, as well as people with disabilities and people working to make ends meet.
Ms. Clarke’s civil rights expertise and commitment to advancing equal justice under the law is urgently needed in this moment to strengthen civil rights protections and confront systemic inequities. We look forward to working closely with her in the years ahead.