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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WASHINGTON – Today, House Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers, Jr., released the following statement after the Senate fell two votes short of ending debate on the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014.  The 58-42 vote effectively cuts off any prospect of surveillance reform in the 113th Congress.  The USA FREEDOM Act would have introduced sweeping reforms to various government surveillance programs, including the bulk collection of telephone metadata at the National Security Agency.

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
"Although Senate Republicans have blocked progress on the USA FREEDOM Act, the fight to defend our privacy and our civil liberties is far from over.  I was proud to champion this critical legislation through the House which has bipartisan support in the Congress, and has been endorsed by the tech community, privacy advocates, the intelligence community, and the President of the United States.  Each of these constituencies knows that the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act sunset on June 1, 2015.  With that deadline fast approaching, we will continue our work to restore the full measure of privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

"I extend my sincere gratitude for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for his tireless dedication and leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with him again to strengthen our national security laws in the 114th Congress."

On May 22, 2014, the House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act of 2014 (H.R. 3361) by a vote of 302-121.  The bipartisan bill authored by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), would have ended bulk collection of data by the government and reform our nation’s intelligence-gathering programs operated under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
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Saturday, November 15, 2014


WASHINGTON – Today at a press conference led by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) joined many House Democratic Colleagues in urging President Obama to use his broad legal authority to implement administrative reforms to improve key aspects of America’s broken immigration system.

“Republicans have refused every effort in Congress to fix our broken immigration system despite countless opportunities.  In the face of Congressional inaction, like those before him, the President must act,” said Rep. John Conyers. 

Spearheaded by Rep. Gutierrez and House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Rep. Conyers and over 115 House Democrats issued a letter to President Obama urging him to exercise his power under existing law to prevent the separation of undocumented family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permeant residents, and deferred action beneficiaries.  The letter also encourages the President to recognize undocumented farmworkers that face exploitation and abuse.   

Last year, after substantial negotiations between a bipartisan group of 4 Democratic and 4 Republican Senators, the Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation that would have overhauled U.S. immigration law.  If enacted, the bill would establish a fair pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants after undergoing several security measures before obtaining a green card, further secure our borders, and ensure that our nation’s economic needs could be met through improved visa programs.  House Republicans have repeatedly blocked progress of this critical legislation by refusing to allow a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill.

“At this time, it is clear to me that the only path forward on immigration policy is through Executive action.  I encourage the Obama Administration to move forward with bold, Executive action because it’s the right thing to do for the country,” added Rep. Conyers.

# # #

Text of the letter to President Obama urging him to take “bold and meaningful” executive action is below:

November 13, 2014

Dear Mr. President:

It is most unfortunate that Republican leaders in the House refused to allow a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill the Senate passed last year.  Even today, if Republican leaders allowed a vote, the bill would pass.  But they won’t.

When Republicans blocked legislation, your pledge to use Presidential power under existing law to improve our immigration system gave us hope. Without such changes, our economy will continue to suffer and families in our communities will continue to be torn apart.

Although we were very disappointed when you postponed action until after the November election, we were encouraged last week when you reaffirmed your promise to act before the end of the year.

We hope that your actions will prevent the separation of undocumented family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and DACA beneficiaries and offer protection to others who have long worked in the United States and have established strong ties with our communities.  We similarly hope that you will recognize that undocumented farmworkers are “essential for agriculture” and that our country would benefit greatly if they were permitted to work in our fields without fear.  We further hope that you will reform our immigration enforcement efforts to make them more sensible and humane.

Bold and meaningful executive action will provide a boost to our national and local economies.  It will strengthen communities and promote family unity.  It will help the government focus limited enforcement resources on those who pose a true danger to the public.  And by providing an opportunity for millions of undocumented immigrants to register with the government—provide detailed biographic information, undergo criminal background checks, demonstrate continuing compliance with tax laws—it will protect American and immigrant workers alike by reducing the threat of exploitation and abuse.

The legal authority for taking executive action is clear and substantial.  Just two years ago, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts reaffirmed that the administration retains “broad discretion” to decide “whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all.”  Arizona v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 2499 (2012).  And executive action in this area is anything but unprecedented.  In fact, every past President starting from President Dwight D. Eisenhower more than half a century ago has used such authority when dealing with similar issues regarding the national interest.

Like us, you have heard Republicans warn that any actions you take will “poison the well” and prevent them from using their upcoming majority in the Senate to address our broken immigration system. However, for the past two years it was not Senate Democrats that blocked much-needed legislation, it was House Republicans. That obstacle to sensible immigration reform still remains. Let us also not forget that congressional Republicans previously blocked reform in 2006 and 2007.

As you said last week, “What we can’t do is just keep on waiting. There’s a cost for waiting.” That cost is measured in the tens of thousands of parents of U.S. citizen children who are deported each year. It is measured in the emotional price children and DACA recipients pay worrying about whether their parents will come home at the end of the day. Our national security suffers whenever we spend precious enforcement resources on hardworking immigrant families, rather than on criminals and those who mean our communities harm.  And American workers’ wages and working conditions are consistently undermined as long as millions of immigrant workers are working in the shadows and off the books. We agree with you, Mr. President. We can no longer afford to wait.

As you have said, it is ultimately the job of Congress to reform our broken immigration system by enacting legislation. But by failing to do their job—and repeatedly interfering with your efforts to do your job—congressional Republicans threaten to take our immigration system hostage and preserve a status quo that everyone agrees is unacceptable. Their failure to act must not inhibit your commitment to governing.

We will stand with you as you take bold and meaningful action, consistent with existing law and historical precedent, to protect American families, strengthen local communities and grow the economy.


1.         Karen Bass
2.         Earl Blumenauer
3.         Suzanne Bonamici
4.         Tony Cárdenas
5.         Joaquin Castro
6.         Judy Chu
7.         David Cicilline
8.         Katherine Clark
9.         Yvette Clarke
10.       Wm. Lacy Clay
11.       Emanuel Cleaver
12.       James Clyburn
13.       Steve Cohen   
14.       John Conyers, Jr.
15.       Jim Costa
16.       Joseph Crowley
17.       Elijah Cummings
18.       Danny Davis
19.       Susan Davis
20.       Diana DeGette
21.       Rosa DeLauro
22.       Suzan DelBene
23.       Theodore Deutch
24.       Lloyd Doggett
25.       Tammy Duckworth
26.       Donna Edwards
27.       Keith Ellison
28.       Eliot Engel
29.       Anna C. Eshoo
30.       Sam Farr
31.       Chaka Fattah
32.       Bill Foster
33.       Marcia Fudge
34.       Joe Garcia
35.       Alan Grayson
36.       Al Green
37.       Gene Green
38.       Raul Grijalva
39.       Luis Gutierrez
40.       Janice Hahn
41.       Alcee Hastings
42.       Ruben Hinojosa
43.       Rush Holt
44.       Michael Honda
45.       Steny Hoyer
46.       Jared Huffman
47.       Sheila Jackson Lee
48.       Hakeem Jeffries
49.       Hank Johnson
50.       Marcy Kaptur
51.       Robin Kelly
52.       Joseph P. Kennedy, III
53.       John B. Larson
54.       Barbara Lee
55.       Sander Levin
56.       John Lewis
57.       Zoe Lofgren
58.       Alan Lowenthal
59.       Ben Ray Luján
60.       Carolyn Maloney
61.       Doris O. Matsui
62.       Betty McCollum
63.       Jim McDermott
64.       James P. McGovern
65.       Jerry McNerney
66.       Gregory Meeks
67.       Grace Meng
68.       George Miller
69.       Gwen Moore
70.       James P. Moran
71.       Jerrold Nadler
72.       Grace Napolitano
73.       Gloria Negrete McLeod
74.       Eleanor Holmes Norton
75.       Beto O’Rourke
76.       Frank Pallone
77.       Bill Pascrell
78.       Donald Payne, Jr.
79.       Ed Perlmutter
80.       Scott Peters
81.       Pedro Pierluisi
82.       Chellie Pingree
83.       Mark Pocan
84.       Jared Polis
85.       Mike Quigley
86.       Charles Rangel
87.       Lucille Roybal-Allard
88.       Bobby Rush
89.       Linda Sanchez
90.       Loretta Sanchez
91.       Janice Schakowsky
92.       Adam Schiff
93.       Bradley S. Schneider
94.       Kurt Schrader
95.       Allyson Y. Schwartz
96.       Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
97.       Jose Serrano
98.       Terri A. Sewell
99.       Albio Sires
100.     Adam Smith
101.     Jackie Speier
102.     Eric Swalwell
103.     Mark Takano
104.     Mike Thompson
105.     Dina Titus
106.     Paul Tonko
107.     Chris Van Hollen
108.     Juan Vargas
109.     Nydia Velazquez
110.     Marc A. Veasey
111.     Filemon Vela
112.     Maxine Waters
113.     Henry Waxman
114.     Peter Welch
115.     Frederica Wilson
116.     John Yarmuth

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Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. released the following statement today on President Obama’s nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, Eastern District of New York, to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Loretta Lynch is an accomplished and committed public servant who has proven that she can withstand various challenges in the pursuit of justice.  As a federal prosecutor from the Eastern District of New York, Lynch has worked hard to crack down on political corruption and terrorism.  As America continues its struggles to protect and expand civil rights for all, I am confident Ms. Lynch will bring a fresh perspective in securing voting rights, addressing over-criminalization and improving the criminal justice system as a whole.

“President Obama’s nomination of Ms. Lynch to be our next Attorney General would make her a dynamic addition to his diverse and distinguished cabinet.  Once confirmed, Ms. Lynch would continue the legacy left behind by our current Attorney General Holder, as the first African-American woman to hold the position. 

“I encourage the Senate to confirm Ms. Lynch as our next Attorney General without delay to reassure the American people that the Justice Department will continue its diligent work under first-rate leadership seamlessly.”
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Saturday, November 1, 2014


DETROIT—Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) issued the following statement regarding the Ebola crisis and the federal government’s response:

“While Ebola is a dreadful illness that poses a serious threat to nations in West Africa, the simple fact remains that Ebola is extraordinarily rare in the United States.  There have been only two cases of Ebola contracted in the country, and health professionals have treated both successfully.  

“I applaud President Obama for basing his response to Ebola on science rather than unproven hysteria.  His decision to send a Disaster Assistance Response Team—comprised of leading public health experts—to West Africa has been essential to containing the virus in Liberia and other West African nations.  Given that an appropriate response to the virus requires action from medical researchers, military personnel and domestic healthcare professionals, the President wisely appointed a capable coordinator to oversee the federal government operation.  Central to every aspect of President Obama’s strategy is the important notion that we must eradicate Ebola at its source. 

“Of course President Obama needs the resources and personnel to effectively implement this prudent strategy.  But over the last decade, the federal contributions toward medical research at National Institutes of Health (NIH) have fallen in inflation adjusted terms.  In fact, the agency’s budget has shrunk by more than 20 since 2003.  This reduction is especially irresponsible because the NIH is the world leader in efforts to identify new means of treating and preventing Ebola. 

“Under the Republicans’ misguided across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, other pivotal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have suffered similar funding setbacks.  Additionally, conservatives in the Senate have blocked the confirmation of one of the most highly-qualified nominees for Surgeon General in U.S. history, leaving the position vacant at a time when accurate medical information is particularly important. 

“It’s time to put partisan considerations aside and support President Obama’s strategy to protect Americans and eliminate Ebola globally.  I hope more and more of my colleagues will put aside partisan considerations and support the non-nonsense strategy of our President to protect us here and eliminate Ebola globally.”
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