Fixing the Civil Rights Commission

By Kenneth L. Marcus
March 31, 2010
Several dozen advocacy organizations have recently promoted a high-profile proposal to “fix” the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Their goal is to change the name of the commission to “The U.S. Commission on Civil and Human Rights” and to authorize the new commission to monitor U.S. compliance with international human rights treaties. At the same time, the current commissioners would be terminated, and the President would be authorized to appoint a new slate subject only to senate confirmation. The primary advocate of this plan is none other than former commission chair Mary Frances Berry, who developed the concept in her 2009 book, And Justice for All: The United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Continuing Struggle for Freedom in America. Popular with Democratic congressional staff, the Berry plan has been actively promoted by a large coalition led by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Constitution Society, and a new group formed precisely to advance this proposal, the “Campaign for a New Domestic Human Rights Agenda.” ...