Washington, DC — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Homeland Security Subcommittee, and U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, today joined the Rights Working Group and American Civil Liberties Union to express support for upcoming federal legislation to end racial profiling by enforcing the constitutional right to equal protection for all. In addition, the Rights Working Group released their report Reclaiming Our Rights: Reflections on Racial Profiling in a Post-9/11 America, which shares a range of perspectives on the expansion of racial profiling over the last 10 years and opportunities for reaffirming our rights. Senator Cardin was a contributor to this report, sharing his perspective on the need for federal legislation. Rep. Conyers wrote about the evolution of the racial profiling debate.
“Racial profiling has no place in 21st Century law enforcement. The vast majority of our law enforcement officials who put their lives on the line every day handle their jobs with professionalism, diligence, and fidelity to the rule of law. However, Congress and the Justice Department can and should still take further steps to prohibit racial profiling and finally root out its use,” said Senator Cardin. “Racial profiling also diverts scarce resources from real law enforcement. Law enforcement officials nationwide already have tight budgets. The more resources that are spent investigating individuals solely because of their race or religion, the fewer resources are being directed at suspects actually demonstrating illegal behavior.”
In June 2001, the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) had bipartisan support and passage was expected by the end of the year. After September 11, 2001, the prospects for passage dimmed as the focus turned to national security and passage of the PATRIOT Act. Ten years later, legislators and civil rights groups have a renewed push to pass this important legislation. Senator Cardin expects to reintroduce ERPA in the Senate later this fall. Rep. Conyers also plans to introduce the House version.