Campaign Promises

Cabinet/Departments -> Justice -> Civil Rights


ItemJustice
Civil RightsGrade
JU-4
The Promise: "Obama will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan for America: "Blueprint for Change" dated 10/09/08.
Source: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/550007-barack-obama-2008-blueprint-for-change.html
Status:Obama signed the "Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act" on 01/29/09. This bill amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck. Campaign promise kept.
1.00
JU-5
The Promise: "Will sign into law the Equal Remedies Act of 2007 "to do away with the caps on compensatory and punitive damages under Title VII that presently impede the ability of victims of racial and gender discrimination to fully recover for the wrongs they have suffered."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice For All", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:The "Equal Remedies Act of 2007" (S. 1928) was introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) on 08/01/07 but was not enacted.

Under Title VII, compensatory and punitive damages that a jury can award to a plaintiff for discrimination are capped as follows: companies with 15-100 employees: $50K; 101-200: $100K; 201-500: $200K; and 500 or more: $300K. The proposed bill (S. 1928) would have removed the limits on the dollar amount of awardable damages, in cases of intentional employment discrimination, for pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses and punitive damages.

This promise could potentially have been fulfilled under the Civil Rights Act of 2008 (H.R. 5129) (into which the Equal Remedies Act of 2007 was rolled) which was introduced by Representative John Lewis (D-GA) on 01/23/08 to restore, reaffirm and reconcile legal rights and remedies under civil rights statutes. This bill expired with the 110th Congress and was not reintroduced during subsequent sessions of Congress.

This promise was not fulfilled.
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JU-6
The Promise: "...will sign legislation that will ban the practice of racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice For All", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:Versions of the "End Racial Profiling Act" (ERPA) have been in the works for over a decade.

During President Obama's two terms in office, several bills were introduced to end racial profiling. Among those bills, none of which were passed by Congress and thus not enacted:
- End Racial Profiling Act of 2010 (H.R. 5748), 111th Congress
- End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 (S. 1670), 112th Congress
- Racial Profiling Prevention Act of 2012 (H.R. 4398), 112th Congress
- End Racial Profiling Act of 2013 (S. 1038), 113th Congress
- End Racial Profiling Act of 2015 (H.R. 1933), 114th Congress
- End Racial Profiling Act of 2015 (S. 1056), 114th Congress
- Racial Profiling Prevention Act (H.R. 2381), 114th Congress

This promise was not fulfilled.
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JU-7
The Promise: "...will encourage states to adopt a law...requiring videotaping of interrogations and confessions in capital cases to ensure that prosecutions are fair."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice For All", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:As of CY2009, 10 states, the District of Columbia (DC), and over 500 U.S. jurisdictions had adopted the requirement through legislation/statute to videotape specified interrogations. As of end-2016, 21 states, DC, and about 1,000 jurisdictions had laws/rules in place to mandate the recording of specified interrogations/confessions.

There is no evidence that President Obama took any action during his two terms in office to encourage the remaining 29 states to follow suit by making the recording of interrogations/confessions a legal requirement at the state level.

This promise was not fulfilled.
0.00
JU-8
The Promise: "...will also require the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights to provide him with a report for its plan to diversify the Division's workforce in his first 100 days, particularly in the Criminal Section."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice For All", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:The Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ) was founded in CY1957 to enforce anti-discrimination laws.

While reports from various sources, coupled with Congressional testimonies, indicate that the DOJ Civil Rights Division was active in diversifying its hiring and training practices during CY2009, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Thomas Perez, is not known to have presented a report to President Obama, within 100 days of his first inauguration in CY2009, on his plan to diversify the Civil Rights Division and particularly its Criminal Section.

This promise was not fulfilled.
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JU-9
The Promise: "...will ensure that the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division vigorously pursues cases involving hate crimes and civil rights abuses by local officials."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice For All", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by President Obama on 10/28/09 as Division E of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (H.R. 2647).

Given that the key words of this promise are "abuses by local officials," the above Act was the perfect vehicle through which President Obama could have addressed the responsibilities of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division Criminal Section. This did not occur...not even a mention.

As of end-CY2016, there was no evidence that President Obama specifically/personally weighed in to strengthen the Criminal Section's responsibilities regarding hate crimes and civil rights abuses at the local level.

This promise was not fulfilled.
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JU-10
The Promise: "...will sign the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act into law and charge the Voting Rights Section with vigorously enforcing that law and the provisions of the Voting Rights Act."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Creating Equal Opportunity and Justice For All", dated 09/11/08.
Source: https://my.ofa.us/page/-/HQpress/Fact%20Sheet%20Howard%20Convocation%20FINAL%20IH.pdf
Status:Then-Senator Obama introduced the "Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2007" (S. 453) on 01/31/07. This bill never gained traction and died with the 110th Congress.

Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) introduced similar legislation on 01/06/09 (H.R. 97) and it also failed to gain traction in Congress. This bill expired with the 111th Congress at the end of CY2010.

On 12/14/11, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced the "Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2011" (S. 1994). This was followed by Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) introducing the "Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2012" (H.R. 5815) on 05/17/12. Neither bill progressed beyond preliminary committee review and expired with the 112th Congress. Similar bills have not been introduced in subsequent sessions of Congress.

This promise was not fulfilled.
0.00