Recognize Human and Civil Rights


Target: Texas Senator John Cornyn

Goal: Return the words “Civil Rights, and Human Rights” to the name of a senate subcommittee.

Senate Republicans recently changed the name of a senate subcommittee, striking “civil rights” and “human rights” from its name. The subcommittee is now called the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, leading many people to worry that the committee will focus on aspects of the Constitution other than those reflecting civil rights. A spokesman for Texas Senator John Cornyn, the new chairman of the subcommittee, said the committee believes that civil and human rights will still be part of the discussion because they are still part of the Constitution, but Cornyn’s previous record with human rights has many skeptical about this change.

In the past, Cornyn, a Republican, has voted in favor of a bill that would notify parents if minors received out-of-state abortions and has also supported legislation that would prevent contribution to family planning organizations that offer abortion as an option. In 2009, Cornyn said he would not vote for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor because of her “liberal, activist perspective.” In a speech to the Heritage Foundation, Cornyn compared same-sex marriage to a man marrying a box turtle. Though the quote was ultimately stricken from the final version of the speech, this, and many of his other actions, show that Cornyn’s loyalties are clear—though he might value civil rights as a whole, his actions and voting record show a disregard for women’s rights, the rights of same-sex couples, and activism as a whole. That he, as chairman of the subcommittee, has stricken “civil rights” from the name does not bode well for the committee’s future.

Taking civil and human rights out of the name of the subcommittee makes them seem less important. Though these rights may be part of the Constitution, removing them from the title allows them to fall by the wayside when they should be the focus. Given Senator Cornyn’s voting record, there is far too much potential for these issues to be ignored in favor of others. Ask Senator Cornyn to change the name of the subcommittee back so that it includes human and civil rights, ensuring that these issues will not be forgotten in favor of other issues concerning the Constitution.


Dear Senator Cornyn,

The Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights recently shortened its name. Unfortunately, the shortening of the name removes “Civil Rights, and Human Rights.” While these issues are a crucial part of the Constitution as well, their removal makes room for an increased focus on issues that are not related to human rights.

There is a tendency in our culture to assume that, as Americans, we have solved most of the past’s problems with inequality, racism, and sexism. Though we’d all like to believe that, it’s simply not the case—there is still a great deal of institutional oppression for marginalized groups in our society. Including civil and human rights in the name of the subcommittee shows a commitment to improving the lives of everyone in our country, a commitment that just isn’t as clear in the committee’s new name.

Including civil and human rights in the name will instill faith that these causes are important to Senate Republicans, while removing them feels like a dismissal of these very valid concerns. Please reconsider the removal of “Civil Rights, and Human Rights” from the name of the subcommittee.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Tktru via Wikimedia Commons

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