Commentary: Senator Schumer, Time to Appoint African American on Senate Judiciary Committee

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Senator Schumer. Photo flickr

Dear Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer,

On behalf of the national racial and social justice organizations listed below, we write to express our firm support for the appointment of an African American Senator to serve on the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary (“Senate Judiciary Committee”).

As organizations with a history of working collaboratively to protect civil rights and advance the cause of racial justice, we are at an unprecedented moment where the faith in the institutions of our federal government have been shaken. Now, more than ever, an African American member should be added to the ranks of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee serves as one of the most critical subcommittees in Congress. Charged with both oversight and legislative responsibilities, this body has long-served as a check on the appointment powers of the Executive Branch. In addition, the Senate Judiciary Committee exercises broad jurisdiction over matters that relate to civil rights, issues that deeply impact the everyday lives of African Americans. We find it deeply concerning that only one African American Senator (Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill)) has served on this distinguished body in its 201 year history; and in the 22 years since her transition, no African American Senator has been given the opportunity to serve.

We are indeed at an unprecedented moment in history where a record number of African American Senators serve in Congress. This vacancy creates the opportunity to further diversify the perspectives and voices overseeing issues that impact the most vulnerable communities in our country. We urge Senate Leadership to ensure that the voice of the African American community is reflected, not only in its mission, but in its makeup.

We strongly support the appointment of an African American Senator to fill the current vacancy on the Judiciary Committee.

We thank you for your consideration of the points raised in this letter. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this matter further, please contact Kim Tignor, Director of Public Policy at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, at (202) 662-8310 or


Kristen Clarke

President and Executive Director

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Marc Morial, CEO
National Urban League

Derrick Johnson, President and CEO

Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President
National Action Network

Melanie Campbell, President and CEO
The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Vanita Gupta, President and CEO
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

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