Thursday, June 9, 2016


House Judiciary Committee Republicans Refused to Allow a Vote on Amendment to Ensure a Judge May Not Be Disqualified On the Basis Of Race, Ethnicity, or National Origin

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) condemned the actions of House Judiciary Republicans who refused to vote on an amendment to H.R. 4768, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2016. The amendment offered by Congressman David Cicilline would have made clear that a judge cannot be disqualified on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“After fighting for civil rights in the House of Representatives for more than five decades, it’s unsettling to see Judiciary Committee Republicans refuse to allow a vote on a proposal that provides common sense protections against blatant racial, ethnic, and national origin discrimination,” said Congressman Conyers. “We must continue to fight for Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream by ensuring all people in our nation are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“A strong, independent federal judiciary is critical to the functioning of our democracy. It is despicable that anyone would insinuate that a judge’s ethnicity prevents him or her from rendering impartial decisions,” said Congressman Cicilline. “It doesn’t matter if a judge is Mexican-American, African-American, Irish-American, Jewish, Muslim, or Christian. The only thing that matters is whether they follow the Constitution and properly interpret the law. I’m disappointed that my Republican colleagues did not take this opportunity to reassert this basic principle and condemn racist attacks on the federal judiciary.”

An independent federal judiciary is critical to maintaining the balance of powers enshrined in our Constitution.  If rich and powerful litigants are permitted to smear and ultimately disqualify judges based upon race, ethnicity, or national origin, this would set a dangerous precedent that would prevent our judiciary system from ensuring that everyone is equal under the law.

The House Judiciary Committee passed the Republican-sponsored Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2016 on a party line vote of 12 to 8. You can read Ranking Member John Conyers’ statement on theSeparation of Powers Restoration Act of 2016 here.

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