Kristen Clarke becomes first woman of color to helm DOJ Civil Rights Division



Kristen Clarke, a longtime civil rights lawyer, was confirmed Tuesday by the Senate to steer the Justice Division’s Civil Rights Division, making her the first girl of coloration to formally serve in that put up.

Clarke’s path to the job was a contentious one, with Democrats and Republicans sparring over her file and the way aggressively she would search to implement civil rights legal guidelines and examine police forces. The Senate largely voted alongside get together traces, approving her nomination by a 51-48 vote. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the one Republican to hitch all Democrats and Independents in voting to substantiate the 46-year-old.

Democrats hailed the vote, saying Clarke’s two-decade profession as a civil rights lawyer made her uniquely certified to steer a unit that former Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. described as being the company’s “crown jewel.” As head of an workplace that has greater than 350 attorneys, Clarke will play a key function within the Biden administration’s efforts to implement civil rights and voting rights legal guidelines and to analyze rogue police forces. Her affirmation vote got here on the one-year anniversary of the dying of George Floyd, a Black man whose slaying in police custody ignited nationwide protests over racial disparities within the felony justice system.

“All through her profession, Clarke has been an unwavering ally to probably the most susceptible amongst us, upholding and defending the civil rights of each American,” Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) stated in a press release. “I’m thrilled to have supported her historic nomination and stay up for working along with her to strengthen our democracy.”

Clarke is the primary girl, and first girl of coloration, to be confirmed by the Senate to function the assistant lawyer common for the Civil Rights Division. Vanita Gupta, an Indian American and now the third highest rating Justice Division official, led the civil rights workplace in an performing capability within the Obama administration.


Clarke labored within the Justice Division, principally within the Civil Rights Division, from 2000 to 2006 after graduating from Columbia Regulation College. She was an lawyer for the NAACP Authorized Protection Fund and chief of the civil rights bureau within the New York Lawyer Basic’s Workplace. Most not too long ago, she served as president of the Legal professionals Committee for Civil Rights. From that perch, she vocally and aggressively fought Trump administration insurance policies and appointees.

Senate Republicans fought her nomination, saying she was too liberal and partisan to carry the job. Additionally they stated she held hostile views about police, citing an op-ed she wrote that was titled “I Prosecuted Police Killings. Defund the Police — however Be Strategic.” Clarke, who defended the article as being a nuanced examination of the way to enhance regulation enforcement, drew assist from a number of influential policing teams, together with the Main Cities Chiefs Assn. and the Worldwide Assn. of Chiefs of Police.

In opposing her nomination, Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated in a press release Monday that Clarke had a “lengthy historical past of statements that place the nominee on, frankly, the far-left fringe of the political spectrum … This isn’t the suitable nominee for an important put up at an important time.”


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