Ms. Clarke is one of the good guys. She also is a fierce defender of Voting Rights. OF COURSE, the right hates her and is lying on her.
But, we have to dig in and get her into the DOJ. We need people in the DOJ like her.
The Smearing of Kristen Clarke
By Irin Carmon
Last Thursday evening, Tucker Carlson Tonight devoted another segment — at least its fifth since January — to the civil rights attorney Kristen Clarke, who has been nominated by Joe Biden to serve as assistant attorney general for civil rights. Until then, Carlson’s segments had focused on plumbing the archives of the Harvard Crimson to accuse Clarke, who is the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and would be the first woman confirmed to the position, of being anti-white and anti-Semitic.
Thursday presented a new tactic. Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the Philadelphia police officer whom activist Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing in 1982, was a guest on the show. Clarke, said Carlson, had “worked very hard to get Abu-Jamal free. Clarke even referred to him as a ‘political prisoner.’” Faulkner went for it. “She hates white people, that’s my honest to god true feeling. And she wants to defund the police. She’s a vile woman. And she’s dangerous.”
None of this is true. Clarke never worked on Jamal’s case; she did work at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which argued one of his appeals, but she worked exclusively on voting rights, according to a source close to her. She also never called Jamal a political prisoner. The source, if you can call it that, for the smear appears to be Clarke being listed as a contact for a 1999 conference at Columbia Law School sponsored by the Institute for Research in African American Studies, where she was a student at the time, that included a panel called “In Defense of Mumia,” and a separate one on Black political prisoners; neither featured Clarke.
If all of this invective sounds familiar, it should. It’s the exact playbook that was successfully deployed in 2014 to topple the nomination of another Black civil rights attorney, Debo Adegbile, to the same position — down to the grieving widow’s appearance on Fox News. Unlike Clarke, Adegbile actually worked on the case, although a civil rights lawyer successfully representing someone in a constitutional case isn’t supposed to disqualify you for running the justice department’s civil rights division.
It’s impossible to argue that Clarke, a lifelong civil rights attorney who started her career in the division and has held just about every related senior position but leading it, isn’t qualified for the job. But the earlier bad faith attacks on Clarke have already traveled from cable to the U.S. Senate, which has yet to schedule a hearing for Clarke. During Attorney General Merrick Garland’s hearing last month, Utah Senator Mike Lee asked the nominee, “Would an individual’s past statements … as an adult, declaring that one racial group is superior to another, would statements like that be relevant to an evaluation of whether such a person should be put in charge of running the Department of Justice’s civil rights division?” Lee wanted to know, part of a series of misleading rapid fire questions. “What about anti-Semitic comments. Would those be relevant?”
Garland, who is Jewish, shot down Lee’s charge. “I’ve read, in the last few days, these allegations about Kristen Clarke, who I’ve also gotten to know. Who I also trust. Who I believe is a person of integrity,” Garland responded. Pressed again, he added with some heat, “I’m a pretty good judge of what an anti-Semite is, and I do not believe that she is an anti-Semite. And I do not believe that she is discriminatory in any sense.” (For the record, neither does the Anti-Defamation League.)
As I write this, the homepage of the opposition-research site Bidennoms.com, a link recently tweeted by Ted Cruz, “spotlights” two nominees with photos on their homepage: Clarke and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who’s been nominated to run Medicare and Medicaid — both Black women.
“It’s impossible not to notice that women of color seem to be drawing fire for the wrong reasons,” says Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor and former Civil Rights division official. National Women’s Law Center president Fatima Goss Graves told me, “These types of campaigns against women of color, and the language that is being used, to portray these nominees as ‘radical’ are not being levied against men.”