On the Hill

Senate Confirms Kristen Clarke to Lead Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department

On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Kristen Clarke as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Justice Department. Clarke is the first woman and the first Black woman to lead the division.

The Senate voted 51-48, with Sen. Susan Collins as the only Republican to vote in favor of her nomination. 

Clarke was previously the head of the Civil Rights Bureau of the attorney general’s office of New York. She served as head of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which filed over 250 lawsuits on education, hate crimes and housing, voting rights, and other important issues during her time leading the organization.

Vice President Kamala Harris swore Clarke in, and her spokesperson Symone Sanders referred to Clarke as “a tireless champion of equal justice” in her statement before the ceremony.

“This is a historic moment because for the first time since its creation, following the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the confirmed Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights will be a woman, and will be a black woman, and that is Kristen Clarke,” Sanders said.

Clarke is a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Jamaica. She attended Harvard University and Columbia University School of Law.

Clarke stated, “Our nation is a healthier place when we respect the rights of all communities. In every role I’ve held, I have worked for and with people of all backgrounds — regardless of race, national origin, religion and disability status,” Clarke wrote. “I’ve listened deeply to all sides of debates, regardless of political affiliation. There is no substitute to listening and learning in this work, and I pledge to you that I will bring that to the role.”

Sources: CNN 5/25/21; NBC News 5/25/21

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