Chairman Serrano Statement at Hearing on DOJ's Civil Rights Division

March 12, 2019
Press Release

Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY), Chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division:

The subcommittee will come to order.

Today we are meeting with Eric Dreiband, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.  In addition to his work in the private sector, Mr. Dreiband has served in several positions over the years throughout our federal government, including as the General Counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 2003-2005, and as the Deputy Administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.  Welcome Assistant Attorney General Dreiband.

For more than 60 years, the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice has been a shining example to our nation.  It has fought for marginalized communities, protected basic rights, and ensured justice for all communities.  In communities of color, the Civil Rights Division holds a place of reverence that is well earned through a record of achievement.  The mission of the division is essential to ensuring that ALL Americans receive equal protection under the law.

Sadly, the proud record of service is imperiled under this President.  The attacks on long-standing precedents and effective policies have been unending.  From preventing the use of consent decrees in addressing systemic issues with local law enforcement, to a lack of enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, to rescinding guidance protecting transgender students, the Department has pulled back on policies that have protected millions.  The Department has also chosen to change sides on cases involving cornerstone civil rights issues like affirmative action and discriminatory voting laws. Earlier this year, The Washington Post reported that the Justice Department had been tasked with analyzing current disparate impact guidance and policies­–any revision of which could severely undermine our fair housing laws.

The pace of these changes is dizzying and disturbing. Many of them undermine the core mission of the Civil Rights Division. 

Last month, in what can only be described as a Freudian slip, the President praised the “abolition of civil rights.”  Unfortunately, that statement hits far too close to the truth.  This subcommittee intends to look at the work of the Civil Rights Division very carefully- and we expect that the dollars we appropriate to the Department will be used in a manner that protects the vulnerable communities that the Division has stood up on behalf of for decades. 

Once again, welcome Assistant Attorney General Dreiband, and we look forward to your testimony.  Now let me turn to my friend, Ranking Member Aderholt, for any statement he might have.

 
116th Congress