REPORT: BUSH ADMIN LAX ON CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT

According to a new, non-partisan report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a “Syracuse University-based organization that analyzes information on government staffing, spending and law enforcement.” Among some of the findings, as summarized by the American Civil Liberties Union:

  • Enforcement Drop.  “Specifically, the TRAC report shows that while the reported number of civil rights complaints has remained steady over that period, the government’s enforcement of civil rights cases has sharply declined, from 159 defendants in 1999 to 84 in 2003.”
  • Sanctions Drop.  “There has also been a steady decline in the number of civil sanctions imposed on violators. The government filed 740 civil actions in 2001, 644 in 2002, and 576 in 2003. Civil suits can involve voting rights violations, employment and housing discrimination and other matters.”
  • Diverted Prosecutors.  “According to the report, one factor driving these trends is U.S. Attorneys. In 2003, federal prosecutors filed charges in almost 90 percent of immigration cases presented to them, but they filed charges in only 5 percent of civil rights cases.”Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel, on the study’s findings:

    The report today confirms what practically everyone in the civil rights community already knows: the Justice Department is not doing its job of enforcing civil rights laws … The Senate should ask the nominee for the Attorney General position, Alberto Gonzales, to commit to restoring the Justice Department as the nation’s top civil rights law enforce