Friday, December 26, 2014

America Must Stand Up To Cyberattacks

By Bob Goodlatte and John Conyers, Jr.

As a steady flow of information about the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures has been revealed, we have watched with shock and increasing concern as American lives and our values have been threatened by a narcissistic dictator. As the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, we don’t agree on every issue—but we are in complete agreement that our national response to this chilling threat must be clear and unequivocal, so that we continue to zealously protect our freedoms and principles, most notably the freedom of speech.

The F.B.I. has confirmed our suspicions that a group known as “The Guardians of Peace”—a front group for the North Korean government and its dictator, Kim Jong Un—hacked into Sony’s internal emails, released a trove of embarrassing and salacious communications, and divulged sensitive information about Sony employees because the North Korean government did not approve of its movie, The Interview.  On December 16, the hackers escalated their cyber-war by threatening physical harm to those who intended to see the movie itself, which led to Sony initially canceling the release of the movie.  However, Sony has now decided to release it to a limited number of theaters.

This is not the first time terrorist groups and foreign governments have used intimidation to attempt to destroy our freedoms and way of life. On the eve of World War II, the German government issued various threats to prevent Charlie Chaplin from directing and producing The Great Dictator, a thinly veiled satire of the antics and excesses of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini.  Paramount Pictures ultimately released the movie to great popular and critical acclaim, both in the U.S. and abroad.

The 9/11 attacks were aimed at New York and Washington because the terrorists wanted to shut down our nation’s centers of finance and government. However, Americans stood unified and sent a clear and resolute signal that we would not be intimidated.  Our nation’s airports quickly reopened, as did Wall Street and the Pentagon, and Congress continued to represent the will of the American people without pause.

The cyber-attacks and terror threats associated with The Interview represent the latest twist on earlier efforts at intimidation - the combination of the threat of physical violence with the use of the modern tools of cyber warfare and social media. A tyrant who severely oppresses his own people has used technology to both infiltrate a company and threaten physical harm to Americans who choose to watch a film that doesn’t meet his approval.  Whether or not we like the plot, production, or tone of a creative product, each and every one of us has a stake in ensuring that our freedom of speech is not abridged by either our own government or by a foreign government.

The United States must stand firm against this type of aggressive attack on our freedom of speech. Otherwise these actions will have a chilling effect on the availability of information and creative works in the future and will embolden North Korea and other copycats to act again. We must not allow terrorists and foreign governments to dictate what Americans can or cannot say, watch, produce, or distribute.

Ultimately, this and other cyber-attacks point to the need for a robust national security apparatus, including strong cybersecurity, to protect Americans not just from bodily harm, but from threats aimed at restricting our freedoms.  Congress and the Administration should work to ensure that we have in place the appropriate sanctions against North Korea and that we are using all available tools to combat attacks like this. The more we can do to detect and intercept threats from our enemies, the more we will be able to protect our cherished liberties.

The threat to Americans who wish to see this film is not the last time that thugs and tyrants will seek to challenge our character and our creativity.  But we are united in our resolve to defend our freedoms against all threats, foreign and domestic.  In the past, we have stood together—ignoring the petty and partisan differences that too often divide us.  Again, we must stand together to send the strong message that the United States will never yield to those wishing to silence our freedoms.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014


DETROIT - Today, Congressman John Conyers Jr. (MI-13) and 76 Members of Congress sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging UN authorities to ensure that victims of the cholera epidemic in Haiti have access to a fair and impartial procedure for adjudication of their claims.
Scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that the UN introduced cholera to Haiti in October 2010 through improper waste disposal on a base located on the banks of a tributary to the Artibonite River.  To date, more than 8,500 Haitians have died from the disease and over 700,000 people have been infected, becoming the largest single-country cholera epidemic in the world.
In July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti and acknowledged the UN’s “moral responsibility” to respond, but no major actions have been taken with regard to the cholera crisis since that time.   
“Haiti’s cholera crisis has been a stain on the world’s conscience,” said Rep. Conyers.  “We are united in working to ensure that the United Nations upholds its obligations to provide a fair process to adjudicate claims by individuals harmed in the course of its operations.” Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©


John Conyers, Jr.
WASHINGTON – Today,  House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Chairman Bob Goodlatte ( R-Va.) released the following joint statement after the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that North Korea is responsible for the Sony cyber-attack:

“We are deeply concerned that our suspicions were confirmed today by the FBI that North Korea is behind the attack on Sony Pictures and the associated threats of physical harm against U.S. citizens.  We will not allow terrorists or a narcissistic dictator to dictate what products can or cannot be created and distributed in America.  Whether or not we like the plot, production, or tone of The Interview, every American has a stake in ensuring that our collective freedom of speech is not abridged by either our own government or a foreign government.

“The United States must stand firm against this type of aggression against our freedom of speech.  Otherwise, these actions will have a chilling effect on creative works in the future and will embolden North Korea and other copycats to act again to further curtail books, television and cable shows, newspapers, blogs, and web sites.  Our national response to this threat must be clear and unequivocal.  As the committee with jurisdiction over the Justice Department and FBI, we will continue to monitor this investigation and support efforts by the U.S. to thwart these intrusive attacks.”

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DETROIT – Today, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) issued the following statement after President Obama announced the release of an American prisoner, Alan Gross, from Cuba and that the United States will pursue diplomatic relations with the country:

John Conyers, Jr.
“President Obama has demonstrated real leadership in securing the release of American Alan Gross and initiating the reestablishment of normal diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba.  

“For more than half a century, our country’s policy of isolation toward Cuba has failed to promote democracy or prosperity for the Cuban people.  The policy has separated families, obstructed trade, and undermined US influence in the Western Hemisphere. 

“Today’s announcement from President Obama is a historic step in the right direction.  In moving toward normal diplomatic relations, empowering the Cuban people economically through greater access to remittances and exports, authorizing additional travel, and initiating other steps to reintegrate Cuba into the community of nations, President Obama is laying the groundwork for substantial economic development and progress on human rights.    

“This announcement is also good news for the US economy.  Cuba sits just 90 miles off our coast and has an economy of more than $68 billion.  Yet, up to this point, American firms have been forced to cede business to foreign competitors.  Of particular interest to my hometown of Detroit, the people of Cuba—who must famously rely on American cars made before 1959—may soon be able to buy American cars and automotive parts once again. 
“As a longtime advocate of normalized relations with Cuba, I look forward to working with President Obama to fully implement the policy initiatives announced today.  I commend the President for heeding the wise advice of Pope Francis and other human rights leaders in making today’s compassionate, commonsense decision.  After more than 50 years of failed policy, it’s time that we changed course.”
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John Conyers Jr.: How Congress can address our racial outrage

By John Conyers, Jr.

John Conyers, Jr.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Kerner Commission, which was created in the aftermath of the country’s 1967 riots, warned that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” And now, six years after the election of our first African American president, we still find ourselves riven by racial distrust and fear. The string of deaths of unarmed blacks by police officers in Cleveland, Phoenix, New York and Ferguson, Mo., challenge not only the strength of our criminal and social justice systems but also the credibility and legitimacy of our political system.

In 1965, when I came to Congress, I joined a legislative body that was still able to work together at times of national crisis. The first major bill I voted on, the Voting Rights Act, was a response to widespread outrage over the police reaction to the “Bloody Sunday” protests, including the beatings in Selma, Ala. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) and his Republican counterpart, Everett Dirksen (Ill.), introduced the bill, and the final legislation enjoyed more support from Republican than Democratic members, an almost unthinkable dynamic today.

Even after the divisive impact of the so-called “Gingrich Revolution” when Congress was truly tested, we were able to rise to the occasion. In 1996, in the midst of a wave of arsons targeting African American houses of worship, then-Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde, a stalwart Republican from Illinois, asked me to work with him on a legislative response. We disagreed on most of the major social issues of the day, from abortion to affirmative action. However, during this crisis we found a way to introduce and pass the Church Arson Prevention Act, which not only gave law enforcement needed prosecutorial tools but also sent a loud and clear signal to the minority community that Congress was willing and able to act.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014


WASHINGTON -  Today, Rep. John Conyers, Jr.  (MI-13) issued the following the statement concerning the City of Detroit emerging from bankruptcy:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“I believe all stakeholders – citizens, elected officials, organized labor, clergy, and the private sector – need to continue to work collaboratively to help Detroit grow and prosper in the 21st Century.  We know that Detroit’s potential is unlimited, and I look forward to working every day to improve our great City.

“It is disturbing that the bankruptcy court established a very dangerous precedent last year by holding that pensions and retiree benefits can be diminished in bankruptcy, notwithstanding the clear statement in the Michigan constitution.  We should not subvert the very principle that made Detroit great – respect for workers’ rights.  Putting the pensions of our police officers, firefighters, and other municipal workers on the chopping block repudiated not only the State law, but our City’s working class history and heritage.  Although in the end a compromise was achieved to resolve this case, I fear that the precedent could be used in other cases to the disadvantage of hard working public employees.  That is why I have introduced legislation, the “Protecting Employees and Retirees in Municipal Bankruptcies Act of 2014” (H.R. 5133), to respond to this problem.

“With the resignation of emergency manager Kevin Orr, Detroit will be returning day-to-day control to its duly elected leaders, although subject to continued state oversight.  Non-elected emergency managers should not run Detroit, nor any other city or political subdivision as it is anti-democratic and inconsistent with our principles as a city, state, nation.

“Now that the City has emerged from bankruptcy, Congress and the Judiciary Committee should hold hearings concerning the largest municipal bankruptcy in history and consider the ramifications for other financially troubled cities in the future.”
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WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) released the following statement in advance of the vote on the temporary government funding spending bill – also known as the “CRomnibus” - a combined Continuing Resolution and Omnibus spending package:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“America urgently needs investments in job-creation, rising wages, infrastructure upgrades, education, healthcare, and environmental protection.  Sadly, the government funding bill—known as the ‘CRomnibus’ —disinvests from these priorities while rolling back essential financial protections, weakening campaign finance laws, and flouting the will of voters. If this bill stands as it is now, I have no alternative but to oppose it.  

“The ‘CRomnibus’ includes a provision that allows Wall Street banks to engage in some of the same high-risk conduct that caused the 2008 financial crisis.  The Republicans’ refusal, under the bill, to fund the Department of Homeland Security will set the stage for another government shutdown while undermining the President’s efforts to set priorities for immigration enforcement.  Another last-minute provision added by the GOP would intensify the corrupting influence of big money in politics by increasing tenfold the limit on an individual’s maximum contribution to a national political party. 

“The ‘CRomnibus’ is about enriching Wall Street cronies, not prudently funding the government.  It is simply unbelievable that six years after taxpayers were forced to bailout Wall Street, this measure makes F.D.I.C. bailouts automatic.

“If Congressional Republicans wish to pass legislation to undo financial reform and flood politics with big money, they should have the courage to debate these measures in the light of day.  Instead, they have opted to surreptitiously insert them in the annual spending bill just as the nation approaches a government shutdown deadline.  I urge my colleagues to defeat the ‘CRomnibus’ and pass a funding measure that upholds Americans’ real priorities and respects the democratic process.”  
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WASHINGTON - Today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a redacted summary of its 6,000-page report on the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency.  The report concludes that the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques in the years following the attacks of September 11, 2001 did not effectively assist the agency in acquiring intelligence or in gaining cooperation from detainees.  The report also shows that the CIA worked to undermine oversight of its Detention and Interrogation Program, actively misleading the Congress, the Department of Justice, and the White House.  In reaction to the report, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr., Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) released the following joint statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“We are outraged by the actions described in this report.  In the name of the United States, the CIA directed the torture of detainees in our custody, twisted the law to justify its torture program, and engaged in a prolonged campaign to frustrate congressional oversight and accountability of any sort. 

“This report clears up any remaining ambiguity about the differences between torture and so-called ‘enhanced interrogation.’  As federal law defines the term, and as the Office of Legal Counsel within the Department of Justice have interpreted that statute since January 22, 2009, the CIA engaged in ‘torture.’

“Torture is ineffective.  Torture does not yield actionable intelligence.  Torture is a crime under federal law and international convention.  Torture is an affront to American values that date back to George Washington’s command of the Continental Army.  Torture is wrong.  In their zeal to protect the country, the officials responsible for the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program betrayed the principles at our country’s core.

“There has already been some suggestion that it is wrong to release this report at this time, given our exposure in the world.  There will never be a convenient moment for the government to confront the sins of its past.  We are fortunate, indeed, to be citizens of a democracy that is able and willing to engage in the hard work of acknowledging these actions, and to take the steps necessary to ensure that it never happens again.

“But let us be clear: if there is backlash over this report, at home or overseas, the fault lies, not with the decision to discuss torture, but with the decision to torture in the first place.

“Because this report outlines government policy that violates both criminal law and constitutional values, we urge Chairman Goodlatte to hold hearings in the Judiciary Committee on the CIA’s torture program as soon as the new Congress convenes.  These hearings should be held in public, to the extent possible.  An open discussion of these policies is long past due.

“We continue to be reflect on the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who in 1963 reminded us:

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.”
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Saturday, December 6, 2014


WASHINGTON – Today, during debate on the House Floor of H.R. 5759, an anti-immigrant and symbolic bill proposed by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. urged his colleagues to vote against the measure.  Rep. Conyers delivered the following remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
“Mr. Speaker, in one week, the 113th Congress will come to a close without the House having considered a single piece of legislation to fix our Nation's broken immigration system.  It has been 525 days since the Senate passed bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would have made meaningful and long overdue reforms.  But this chamber still has steadfastly refused to allow an up or down vote on that measure.

“There is absolutely no question that our immigration system is broken.  It is failing our businesses, our economy, and, most importantly, millions of families.  Yet, rather than deal with these critical issues, we are here today to vote on yet another symbolic, anti-immigrant measure that has absolutely no chance of being considered in the Senate. 
“I want to be clear; H.R. 5759 is a politically motivated and hastily drafted attempt to once again attack the President, as well as the immigrant families who contribute to our communities and our economy.  I say this for several reasons. 

“First, by blocking the protections offered by the President's actions, this legislation would deprive nearly 5 million immigrants and their families of the hope that they might finally live without the constant fear of separation and deportation.  It would undermine the Administration's efforts to devote greater resources towards securing our borders and deporting felons not families.  And, this would mean that millions of undocumented immigrants will not be asked to pass national security and criminal background checks and pay their fair share of taxes in order to register for temporary protection from deportation.   

“Second, this legislation ignores the well-established legal principle that the Executive Branch must have the authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion to determine how best to use limited immigration enforcement resources.  

“In fact, every President -- for more than half a century, both Democratic and Republican -- has taken executive action on immigration.  For instance, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush established the Family Fairness Program, which was estimated to protect in excess of 1 million undocumented immigrants.  Yet their actions generated little opposition and, in fact, were substantively codified by Congress within a matter of months. 

“In stark contrast, H.R. 5759 falsely claims that President Obama's assertion of that same authority is unlawful.

“The constitutionality of President Obama's executive order is recognized by both liberal and conservative legal experts.  In a letter written last month, 11 prominent legal scholars explained that the President's actions ‘are within the power of the Executive Branch and that they represent a lawful exercise of the President's authority.’

“This letter was signed by such recognized constitutional authorities as Walter Dellinger, who led the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel from 1993-1996, and David Strauss, who formerly worked in the Office of Legal Counsel and the Solicitor General's office.  It was also signed by liberal professors like Laurence Tribe and conservative professors like Eric Posner.  And five days later, 135 immigration law professors echoed that conclusion and provided substantial constitutional, statutory, and regulatory authority for these actions. 

“Third, H.R. 5759 goes well beyond preventing the President from expanding deferred action for childhood arrivals or creating a program to protect the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from deportation.  It would not only prevent this President- but any future President-- from protecting discrete categories of individuals facing unique dangers and challenges.  This means that no future administration will be able to:

·         Parole-in-place the undocumented parents, spouses, and children of military personnel and veterans;

·         Facilitate enlistment in our Armed Forces by U.S. citizens who have undocumented family members;
·         Grant deferred action to victims of crime or serious forms of human trafficking; or grant deferred action and employment authorization to victims of domestic violence and their children seeking visas pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act.

“It is for these reasons that this legislation is opposed by numerous organizations that care about making our immigration system work and protecting the most vulnerable among us.  This includes the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; the AFL-CIO; The Service Workers International Union, and the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women.

“I urge my colleagues to oppose this dangerous, anti-immigrant measure and I reserve the balance of my time.”
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The Congressman Urges Michigan Businesses To Learn More

DETROIT- The U.S. Department of Labor has granted the state of Michigan $2,840,535 in federal funding to support implementation and promotion of the new short-time compensation (STC) program.

The STC program, commonly known as "work-sharing," prevents layoffs by allowing employers to reduce employees’ hours as an alternative to layoffs during an economic downturn.  Under the STC program, workers affected by reduced hours have their wages supplemented by a percentage of the weekly unemployment compensation that they would have received had they been laid off.  The program gives businesses the crucial ability to retain skilled employees at reduced hours during tough economic times, allowing them to simply restore employee hours when demand improves which significantly reduces the high cost to employers of conducting layoffs and re-hiring.

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“As an early supporter of work-sharing here in the United States, I am very pleased that Michigan has received federal resources to bolster this important program,” said Rep. John Conyers, who is a founder and chair of the Congressional Full Employment Caucus.  “Work-sharing is win for all invested parties: workers remain employed and get to keep their health and retirement benefits, while employers can retain skilled workers that are integral to the success of their businesses. Entire communities benefit when lives are not disrupted unnecessarily by the scourge of unemployment.”

The federal funding resources were made available through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which included language taken directly from the Layoff Prevention Act (H.R. 2421) that was co-sponsored by Rep. Conyers and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) in July 2011.

States have until the end of this year to apply for federal resources to implement the STC program.  To address this looming deadline, Reps. Conyers and DeLauro again joined forces to co-sponsor H.R. 5583, the Layoff Prevention Extension Act of 2014, which will give states an additional year to make their STC programs eligible for federal support.  Both members plan to reintroduce the Layoff Prevention Extension Act in the 114th Congress.

Several U.S. states and countries with STC programs have seen significant economic results.  In Rhode Island, work-sharing prevented more than 13,000 layoffs between 2007 and 2010 – the height of the Great Recession.  Countries such as Germany and Japan have reduced levels of unemployment by as much as 1% through work-sharing programs.

“Short-time compensation is something that all states should have an opportunity to have in place long before any future economic downturns occur,” added Rep. Conyers.  “It is critical that Congress pass the Layoff Prevention Extension Act immediately to ensure that all states have adequate time to complete their state-level deliberation and decision-making processes and ultimately reap the benefits of work-sharing.”

Visit the Department of Labor’s website for more information on Short-Time Compensation.
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Monday, December 1, 2014


WASHINGTON – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5421, the Financial Institution Bankruptcy Act of 2014 (FIBA), by a voice vote.  FIBA is the product of the Judiciary Committee’s multi-year examination of the ability of the bankruptcy laws to resolve a failing financial institution.

FIBA incorporates the recommendations of hearing witnesses, regulators and other experts in addition to the record of three Committee hearings on the Bankruptcy Code. Specifically, the bill adds a new subchapter to Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code that improves the bankruptcy process for financial firms of varying sizes, including large, multinational firms whose resolution could have far-reaching implications for domestic and global economies.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Regulatory Reform Subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) praised the House passage of FIBA:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“As leaders of the Judiciary Committee with oversight of our nation’s bankruptcy laws, we have worked across the aisle to answer the question of how to improve the existing bankruptcy process for the resolution of failing financial institutions.  Our answer is FIBA.
FIBA removes potential obstacles to an efficient bankruptcy of a financial institution.  This legislation enhances the Bankruptcy Code and its ability to resolve financial firms for the benefit of stability in the U.S. and global economies and does so with minimal financial burdens or cost.  We applaud the House’s passage of FIBA as an important first step towards enactment into law.”

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Washington, D.C. – Today,  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) sent a letter to Chief Judge Ed Carnes and Judge Gerald Tjoflat of the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit regarding the arrest and the ongoing prosecution of Middle District of Alabama Judge Mark Fuller in Atlanta, Georgia for a violation of state criminal law.

Following the laws prescribed by Congress for allegations of judicial misconduct, the Acting Chief Judge appointed a Special Committee of five judges to investigate Judge Fuller’s actions in connection with the filing of criminal charges in August 2014.  In the letter, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers request to be provided with an update on the status of the ongoing investigation and the anticipated timeline for completion of the required comprehensive written report to the circuit’s judicial council.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014


WASHINGTON – Earlier this year on September 10, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. and eleven other House Judiciary Democrats issued a letter to the National Football League (NFL) raising questions as to how the league handled the Ray Rice situation and about their domestic violence polices.  Also copied on the letter were the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

In addition to the Ranking Member,  the letter was also signed by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (NY-10),  Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Cedric L. Richmond (LA- 02), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-04), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Judy Chu (CA-27), Karen Bass (CA-37), Suzan K. DelBene (WA-01) and Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08).

Specifically, the Representatives called for transparency concerning the NFL’s misconduct by Ray Rice.  In February, Rice violently struck his then-fiancé, Janay Palmer, in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino in February. 

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“I am glad to be able to shed light on the policies of our major professional sports leagues concerning domestic violence.  As to the questions my colleagues and I posed to the NFL concerning the league’s handling of the domestic violence perpetrated by Ray Rice, we look forward to receiving the report from former FBI Director Robert Mueller once he has completed his investigations,” said Rep. Conyers.  “It is important that we continue to examine the manner in which our professional sports leagues handle incidents of domestic violence.  These high-profile leagues are, in many ways, in a position of public trust and should be at the forefront of handling such incidents appropriately.”

In response, the NFL wrote that the league is, in addition to the previously-announced enhanced disciplinary consequences for violations of the league’s personal conduct policy that include domestic violence and sexual assault, the NFL is engaged in a “comprehensive review” of its those policies, including issues related to investigation, assessment, and punishment of violations.  The league also announced various actions designed to educate players and league employees about these issues in order to prevent future violations and victimization.  As to the questions specifically asked about the Ray Rice incident by the Members in their letter to the NFL, the league’s response refers to the pending investigation by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller. 

In their individual responses, MLB and the NBA stated that they are in the process of reviewing their policies concerning these types of incidents.  MLB outlined steps it is taking related to training and education for players and staff, and announced that it will engage the Major League Baseball Players Association on these issues. 

The NHL and MLS also provided information about their efforts to educate players about these issues and provided copies of their policies covering off-ice and off-field misconduct, which would include instances of domestic violence. 

“We asked the leagues to provide information about their policies concerning domestic violence because it is in the public interest that their policies and implementation thereof be transparent to the public.  I trust that the leagues will continue to review and augment their policies in a manner commensurate with the seriousness of the issue,” added Rep. Conyers.

Following issuance of the letter, all leagues have responded with letters or documents regarding their domestic violence policies.  See below for each league’s response.

Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. was one of the key authors of the original Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994.  VAWA funds programs provide victims with critical services such as transitional housing, legal assistance, and supervised visitation services.  Since its enactment, VAWA has helped decrease domestic violence by 53%.  
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DETROIT – Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) released the following statement after the announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Though the judicial process was fully exercised in this case, I am disappointed in the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed, African-American 18 -year-old.  This result underscores the legal hurdles faced in holding the police accountable for abuse of authority and further illustrates the need for major reform in our criminal justice system.

“It is my sincere hope that in the coming days, we can all focus on the fact that the issues contributing to the Michael Brown shooting are more complex than the criminal indictment of a single police officer can begin to address.  Just as we did during the Civil Rights Movement, I urge those who are upset by the decision to peacefully voice your opposition and exercise non-violent protests to pursue equal justice.

“I hope that the troubling circumstances in Ferguson will serve to galvanize our national resolve to address the much larger history of adversarial relationships between the police and communities of color.  Despite the fact that the majority of law enforcement officers  perform their duties professionally and without bias – and we value their service highly – the issues of race and reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct are so closely linked in law enforcement practices that profiling bias has an impact on virtually every area of criminal justice policy.  In cases like Michael Brown, this specter of racial profiling runs the substantial risk of rendering young minority men suspect as potential perpetrators to be met with the deadliest of force.

“Decades ago, this country made clear through the passage of sweeping civil rights legislation that race should not affect the treatment of individual Americans under the law.  Racial profiling is a direct affront to the Constitutional promise of equal protection that was the goal of the 1960's.  We can cultivate community focused, smart policing that rebuilds trust between residents and law enforcement by ending use of racial profiling and use of excessive force.  The Department of Justice has achieved this result using its pattern and practice authority (42 U.S.C. 14141) in numerous cities across the nation, most dramatically in the Los Angeles Police Department consent decree.  We must reaffirm the concept that when law-abiding citizens are treated differently by those who enforce the law- simply because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin- they are denied the basic respect and equal treatment that is the right of every American.”

On August 11, 2014, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (OH-11), and Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01) issued a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a full civil rights investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown.

On August 14, 2014, Ranking Member Conyers and Reps. Ranking Member John Conyers Jr. (MI-13), Subcommittee on Crime Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Subcommittee on the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice Ranking Member Steve Cohen (TN-09) issued a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) requesting a Congressional hearing on several incidents of local law enforcement using excessive force–sometimes deadly–and other violations where civil rights have been infringed upon. The letter also expresses concern over the extensive militarization of local law enforcement.

The Department of Justice opened a civil rights “pattern and practice” investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department for possible discriminatory misconduct on September 4, 2014. 
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WASHINGTON –House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. released the following statement in support of President Obama’s impending announcement that he will exercise his authority under existing law to improve our broken immigration system through executive action:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“President Obama has the authority, under the U.S. Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act, to improve our broken immigration system so that it better serves American families, our communities and the economy.  Like so many presidents before him, President Obama has chosen to use his authority to defer removal where it is in the national interest.

“Because of President Obama’s decisive executive action, countless American families will gather around the Thanksgiving table next week free from the fear of being torn apart by a broken immigration system.  Husbands and wives, parents and children – who follow the rules and continue making positive contributions to our society – will now be able to emerge from the shadows and live without fear of being separated from their loved ones.  The President’s executive order means that the Administration will be able to focus limited enforcement resources on those who pose a threat to our national security and public safety.

“The need to protect families and to bring millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows is one of the most pressing civil rights issues we face today.  But for more than 8 years, congressional Republicans have blocked every effort to legislatively fix our broken immigration system.  House Republicans are now poised to close out the 113th Congress without bringing a single immigration reform bill to the Floor or even allowing debate on the bipartisan Senate-passed legislation.  The cost of inaction is just too great to continue this partisan gamesmanship.”

In June 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill by a vote of 68-32.  The legislation would have overhauled U.S. immigration law, by establishing a fair pathway to citizenship, further securing our borders, and revamp our visa programs for high and low-skilled workers.

For more information on how President Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will impact undocumented immigrants, click on either link below:

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