By Rahul Saksena, Staff Attorney
The Muslim ban. Attacks on immigrants. Rolling back sexual assault regulations. Morally equating neo-Nazis with racial justice activists. Attacks on Black Lives Matter. Mocking a disabled reporter.
These are all incidents that immediately came to mind when I heard Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) ask Kenneth Marcus, President Trump’s nominee to head the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, whether he disagreed with any aspect of Trump’s civil rights record.
Marcus couldn’t name a single incident.
Marcus’ failure to criticize Trump’s abysmal civil rights record was more than political maneuvering. It was ideological alignment.
Marcus has a long anti-civil rights record, as we documented in this lengthy memorandum. And while Senators during his hearing in front of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions failed to question Marcus on his record of abusing civil rights law to attack Palestinian rights advocates, his troubling view on civil rights enforcement was nonetheless apparent.
For example, Marcus confirmed his anti-civil rights leanings when he refused to agree with Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) that a school district punishing Black students at five times the rate of white students for the same conduct is, on its face, a violation of civil rights law.
Earlier this year, Marcus condemned a Black female student at the University of Wisconsin for criticizing white supremacy.
At a time when bigotry and harassment targeting marginalized students is on the rise, students need and deserve a civil rights champion in the DOE. Kenneth Marcus is not that person.
As Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) remarked to Marcus, “we don’t need someone in this position whose view of civil rights enforcement is to do as little as possible.”