Today, right-wing anti-Palestinian crusader Kenneth Marcus was confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education on a narrow, party-line vote. Marcus, who was confirmed 50 to 46, with no Senate Democrats voting in favor of his confirmation, has spent years advocating for laws and policies aimed at punishing students who advocate for Palestinian rights.
Marcus is the architect of a legal strategy to abuse civil rights law to suppress campus criticism of Israel. His theory alleges that support for Palestinian rights creates an antisemitic climate for Jewish students, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a law that Marcus will be responsible for enforcing in his new role. With Marcus’ confirmation, students who speak out for Palestinian rights face an increased risk of censorship and punishment.
Marcus’ troubling anti-civil rights record also includes attempts to dismantle racial justice policies like affirmative action, opposition to investigating violations of LGBT rights, lobbying Congress to defund Middle East Studies programs, and lobbying Congress to enact the recently re-introduced Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, a bill aimed at censoring Palestine advocacy on college campuses by adopting a widely discredited re-definition of antisemitism that classifies virtually all criticism of Israel as inherently antisemitic. Marcus has also sued academic groups to restrict their speech supporting Palestinian rights. Marcus’ right-wing, anti-civil rights views led numerous civil rights groups to oppose his nomination.
“Marcus’ record clearly demonstrates that his primary mission is not to protect students’ civil rights; it is to shield Israel from criticism. It's unconscionable that the U.S. Senate has confirmed him to oversee civil rights enforcement in Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education even as Israel continues to gun down Palestinians protesting for their rights in Gaza,” Palestine Legal staff attorney Rahul Saksena said. “Students across the country should know that Palestine Legal will be paying close attention to Marcus’ efforts, and we are ready to challenge his anti-civil rights agenda.”
Read more about Marcus’ record on civil rights here.