Civil Rights/Civil Liberties

Civil rights and civil liberties are the building blocks of the rule of law in our country. We must strive to simultaneously uphold the U.S. Constitution, protect our civil liberties, and fulfill our solemn obligation to protect the American people. I am dedicated to ensuring protections against any form of discrimination, including race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, gender, gender identity, veterans status, or sexual orientation.  President Trump’s statements after the white supremacist rally were despicable, and this Administration’s continues to fan the flames of hate speech and hate crimes by demonizing minorities and immigrants.

One of my highest priorities is reviving consideration of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to finally guarantee full and equal protections to women under the Constitution. Since Illinois ratified the amendment in May of 2018, only one more state must do so to reach the 38 state threshold. It is critical that we remove the ratification deadline now and clear the way for the states to make this long overdue recognition. I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation to do so.

We must also work to fix our broken criminal justice system. I was proud to cosponsor the First Step Act criminal justice reform measure enacted in December of 2018 which made key sentencing and prison reform improvements. Much more needs to be done on this front to ensure that all Americans are treated equitably.

I’ve also led the Senate in promoting legislation to end to racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling by law enforcement. Every individual must have an equal opportunity to live his or her life and fulfill the American Dream. This is only possible when the government protects the civil rights and civil liberties of every citizen. In Baltimore and nationwide, we must redouble our efforts to continue the dialogue and the hard work needed to rebuild the trust between law enforcement and the neighborhoods they are sworn to protect and serve. We need to establish a guardian model, not a warrior model, for our law enforcement officers who are putting their lives on the line every day.  In the wake of the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, we must all work together to implement needed reforms in the Baltimore Police Department, including through the full implementation of the consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. In the summer of 2019, after strong support from the Maryland Congressional delegation, the Baltimore Police Department joined the National Public Safety Partnership Program, which is a federal-state partnership designed to help drive down violent crime.

No one – not even the President of the United States – is above the law. President Trump must be held fully accountable in terms of complying with the anti-corruption Emoluments clauses of the Constitution, so that Americans can be sure that the President is putting the country’s own best interests ahead of his personal, family, or business enrichment. I will continue to insist that our federal judges and law enforcement officers in Maryland and throughout the nation meet the highest standards of judicial integrity and respect for the civil rights and liberties of all Americans. In particular, federal judges must uphold their oath to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.”