Civil Rights and the Judiciary

Co-Chairs: John Conyers, John Lewis
Members: Eleanor Holmes-Norton, Robert Scott, Melvin Watt, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Danny Davis, Hank Johnson, Laura Richardson, Karen Bass, Terri Sewell

The Civil Rights and the Judiciary Taskforce is co-chaired by John Conyers and John Lewis. The House Committee of jurisdiction for the Taskforce is the Committee on the Judiciary. The jurisdiction of the Taskforce is as follows:

Long before Dred Scott v. Sanford in 1857, people of African descent have been fighting for the preservation of civil rights. Landmark Supreme Court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education helped lay the foundation for monumental legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was finally passed in the wake of voting demonstrations in Selma, Alabama, and laid the foundation for strengthening and protecting voting rights for African Americans—and ultimately all Americans. Under federal law, an array of civil rights statutes are available to protect individuals from discrimination. Although these laws share similar features, the type of discrimination that they prohibit and the circumstances under which they operate vary from statute to statute. Considering the long-standing history of racial discrimination in this country the CBC continues to fight for civil rights, fairness, and justice for all people.

The Civil Rights and the Judiciary Taskforce oversee legal issues related to the administration of justice in federal courts, administrative bodies, and law enforcement agencies. Issues pertaining to sentencing disparities, juvenile justice, affirmative action, and recidivism all fall under the jurisdiction of the taskforce. Recently members of the CBC, led by the taskforce, drafted and passed into law the Second Chance Act, which helps former prisoners who have served their debt to society reenter with some assistance. The CBC was also instrumental in passing the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act, which narrows the gap between individuals found guilty of offenses involving crack cocaine and those who have committed the same acts but with powder cocaine. As Congress moves through legislation, this taskforce specifically addresses issues related to the Judiciary Committee. They will continue to address issues related to immigration, bankruptcy reform, governance of national penitentiaries, and protection of equal rights for communities of color. The applicable portions of the House of Representatives Rule X for this taskforce’s jurisdiction are as follows:

Committee on the Judiciary.

(1) The judiciary and judicial proceedings, civil and criminal.

(3) Apportionment of Representatives.

(5) Civil liberties.

(6) Constitutional amendments.

(7) Criminal law enforcement.

(8) Federal courts and judges, and local courts in the Territories and possessions. (9) Immigration policy and non-border enforcement.

(10) Interstate compacts generally.

(11) Claims against the United States.

(13) National penitentiaries.

(16) Protection of trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies.

  • share