Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Kristen Clarke to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. Clarke is one of the more controversial individuals that President Joe Biden has nominated to hold high-ranking positions in the Administration as RNLA previously noted here and here. At issue most prominently during today's hearing was Clarke's positions on defunding the police, religious liberty, race, and voting rights.
Republican Senators repeatedly questioned Clarke about a 2020 op-ed she wrote entitled: "I Prosecuted Police Killings. Defund the Police—But Be Strategic." Despite the obvious, Clarke repeatedly deflected and claimed that the policies she advocates for actually support the police.
Watch: @ChuckGrassley questions whether @KristenClarkeJD will use her perch at the Civil Rights Division to strategically defund the police after writing a piece called, “I Prosecuted Police Killings. Defund the Police – But Be Strategic.” pic.twitter.com/1PWP2RWv4A— The Article III Project (A3P) (@Article3Project) April 14, 2021
Wild exchange between @TedCruz and DOJ Nominee Kristen Clarke.— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) April 14, 2021
Cruz points out an op-ed where she repeatedly called to reduce funding for police.
She answers that she didn't have the power of the purse strings, so that advocacy... shouldn't be held against her. What? pic.twitter.com/HOiwONvrpS
Kristen Clarke said that "the impetus for writing this op-ed was to make clear that I *do not* support defunding the police."— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) April 14, 2021
But the title is "defund the police." https://t.co/YzWKcZlPuy
Clarke also exhibited concerning viewpoints on race.
.@kristenclarke refuses to answer question: "is it possible to oppose nominees of color without being called racist?" @ChuckGrassley points out the left calls the GOP racist for opposing nominees for ideological reasons, yet when Dems oppose GOP nominees of color it is not racist— RNLA ⚖️ (@TheRepLawyer) April 14, 2021
Additionally, the Republican members of the Committee highlighted Clarke's concerning outlook on religious freedom, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
.@HawleyMO questions @kristenclarke over her opposition to decision finding that NY Governor was targeting Orthodox Jews. Clarke gives generalized statements and defends her opposition to decision for Orthodox Jews as unique to pandemic issues.— RNLA ⚖️ (@TheRepLawyer) April 14, 2021
Americans need a leader to stand up for their First Amendment rights & to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process. Kristen Clarke is exactly what the Civil Rights Division does not need. I am extremely concerned about her ability to be impartial & fairly enforce the law. pic.twitter.com/AmRfOHfKen— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) April 14, 2021
Finally, many of the questions posed to Clarke centered on voting rights. As Hans von Spakovsky wrote earlier this year:
Clarke opposes reforms intended to safeguard the security and integrity of elections. Her organization has filed numerous lawsuits, as outlined on its website, challenging voter ID and other election reforms. She does not believe in the race-neutral enforcement of federal discrimination laws, which were intended to protect all Americans from discrimination.
Testifying in 2010 before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Christopher Coates, the former head of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division, said that Clarke met with division officials in 2008 to demand that the Justice Department dismiss its first-ever case against a Black official for violating the Voting Rights Act — despite the fact that a federal district court had already found him liable for engaging in flagrant discrimination.
Clarke admits that voter fraud exists and that it dilutes lawful votes. Then why has she shown support for policies that would make it harder to ensure the integrity of elections?— RNLA ⚖️ (@TheRepLawyer) April 14, 2021
While Attorney General Merrick Garland claims that he aims for the Department to be apolitical, nominees like Clarke and appointees already in place at the Department are showing otherwise.
RM @ChuckGrassley points out that despite AG Garland’s assurances that the DOJ will be apolitical, appointees at the Department are already proving to do the opposite.— RNLA ⚖️ (@TheRepLawyer) April 14, 2021
.@ChuckGrassley: “As I’ve said before, I hope Judge Garland meant it when he said he wants to keep politics out of the Justice Department. I’d like to see a real commitment to do that from the nominees today.” pic.twitter.com/No36BBzLWU— Senate Judiciary Republicans (@SenJudiciaryGOP) April 14, 2021
The most striking moment may have come when Senator Tom Cotton exposed Kristen Clarke's antipolice bias with her untruthful and anti-police answers regarding the Michael Brown and Jacob Blake shootings. As Senator Cotton stated:
"Witnesses said he [Jacob Blake] was armed with a knife. Yet again you jumped to conclusions in the aftermath of social media. You repeatedly said he was unarmed. . . And police officers all around America can see today that you won't even agree with [fellow DOJ Biden nominee] Vanita Gupita and Eric Holder that Darren Wilson was justified in the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014."
The Department of Justice isn't a left-wing advocacy organization, but if Kristen Clarke is confirmed it would become one.— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 14, 2021
Police officers and Americans should be terrified of having a Department of Justice that jumps to conclusions without evidence. pic.twitter.com/NfKrBjfgNl
Senator Cotton is correct. Kristen Clarke is not fit to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.