Kenneth Marcus, Trump’s nominee for civil rights, has a long history of working against them

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Any day now, the Senate will consider President Trump’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, Kenneth Marcus. This is a vote that could have widespread and lasting consequences for the safety and rights of students and faculty across the country, in particular those of people of color, women, and LGBTQ students.

As representatives of organizations that are dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights of these threatened communities, we are deeply concerned about Mr. Marcus’ record of working against the mission of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the agency he is nominated to lead. Marcus is unfit for the job.

As Assistant Secretary, Marcus would be responsible for fulfilling the Office’s duty “to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.” It is impossible to square Marcus’s record with these goals. Marcus has an extensive history of targeting constitutionally protected speech, of hostility towards affirmative action and civil rights, of anti-LGBTQ positions, and of lobbying for discrimination in university funding based on political viewpoints.

Marcus has long opposed affirmative action, which seeks to correct past and present-day exclusion of Black students, as “racial prejudice” against white students. For Marcus, the fact that Black students are underrepresented at elite universities isn’t due to the legacy and persistence of racism, but the “cultural dysfunction” of Black families. This offensive racial stereotyping is not only factually incorrect but also downright offensive to the millions of Black students who excel in the sciences, art, business, law, etc. in schools across the country. Marcus cannot be entrusted with protecting the civil rights of students of color when he neither understands systemic racism nor respects people of color.

LGBTQ students and faculty can expect a similarly hostile response if they seek to challenge campus homophobia. When Marcus previously served at OCR as Assistant Secretary during the Bush Administration, he argued that universities that tried to address harassment of LGBTQ students were guilty of “religious discrimination.” Many LGBTQ students find it difficult to succeed in the face of harassment and other forms of discrimination on campus, but Marcus isn’t likely to be their ally. As Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), he opposed investigating violations of the rights of LGBTQ persons. This record is particularly concerning in light of the Department’s hostile actions to date toward LGBTQ students under President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Further, Marcus supports Secretary DeVos’s decision to rescind detailed Title IX guidance on sexual violence and to give special rights to alleged perpetrators—including one-sided appeal rights and an unbalanced evidentiary standard. He even claimed that OCR was wrong to require schools to use the preponderance of the evidence standard in Title IX investigations—even though OCR required schools to use the preponderance standard the last time he was Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. While the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to rally behind survivors, Marcus has made it clear that OCR will not protect the civil right of students to learn in educational environments free of sexual harassment and violence.

Marcus has also targeted the rights of students and faculty who advocate for self-determination for Palestinians. He has abused the OCR complaint process by pushing frivolous protests that only serve to harass and stifle the speech of students he disagrees with. After OCR concluded in 2011 that accusations of campus antisemitism were false and that pro-Palestinian activism was merely the “robust and discordant expressions” common to universities, Marcus still boasted that “even when [charges of antisemitism are] rejected,” they still “expose administrators to bad publicity.” As Assistant Secretary, he’ll be able to wield the threat of bad publicity in an attempt to force universities to restrict the rights of groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine.

At a time of resurgent white identity politics and threats to minority communities, students and faculty deserve an Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights who will protect their civil rights—not a man who claims he cannot name a single civil-rights violation committed by the Trump administration. Senators should do the right thing and reject Marcus’ nomination. As Senator Elizabeth Warren said at Marcus’ committee hearing, “I don’t think we need someone in this position whose view of civil rights enforcement is to do as little as possible to protect as few students as possible.”

Abed A. Ayoub, Legal & Policy Director, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Phillip Agnew, Co-Director, Dream Defenders

Harper Jean Tobin, Director of Policy, National Center for Transgender Equality

 

Any day now, the Senate will consider President Trump’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, Kenneth Marcus. This is a vote that could have widespread and lasting consequences for the safety and rights of students and faculty across the country, in particular those of people of color, women, and LGBTQ students.

As representatives of organizations that are dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights of these threatened communities, we are deeply concerned about Mr. Marcus’ record of working against the mission of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the agency he is nominated to lead. Marcus is unfit for the job.

As Assistant Secretary, Marcus would be responsible for fulling the Office’s duty “to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.” It is impossible to square Marcus’s record with these goals. Marcus has an extensive history of targeting constitutionally protected speech, hostility towards affirmative action and civil rights, anti-LGBTQ positions, and lobbying for discrimination in university funding based on political viewpoints.

Marcus has long opposed affirmative action, which seeks to correct past and present-day exclusion of Black students, as “racial prejudice” against white students. For Marcus, the fact that Black students are underrepresented at elite universities isn’t due to the legacy and persistence of racism, but the “cultural dysfunction” of Black families. This offensive racial stereotyping is not only factually incorrect but also downright offensive to the millions of Black students who excel in the sciences, art, business, law, etc. in schools across the country. Marcus cannot be entrusted with protecting the civil rights of students of color when he neither understands systemic racism nor respects people of color.

LGBTQ students and faculty can expect a similarly hostile response if they seek to challenge campus homophobia. When Marcus previously served at OCR as Assistant Secretary during the Bush Administration, he argued that universities that tried to address harassment of LGBTQ students were guilty of “religious discrimination.” Many LGBTQ students find it difficult to succeed in the face of harassment and other forms of discrimination on campus, but Marcus isn’t likely to be their ally. As Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), he opposed investigating violations of the rights of LGBTQ persons. This record is particularly concerning in light of the Department’s hostile actions to date toward LGBTQ students under President Trump and Secretary DeVos.

Further, Marcus supports Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s decision to rescind detailed Title IX guidance on sexual violence and to give special rights to alleged perpetrators—including one-sided appeal rights and an unbalanced evidentiary standard. He even claimed that OCR was wrong to require schools to use the preponderance of the evidence standard in Title IX investigations—even though OCR required schools to use the preponderance standard the last time he was Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. While the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to rally behind survivors, Marcus has made it clear that OCR will not protect the civil right of students to learn in educational environments free of sexual harassment and violence.

Marcus has also targeted the rights of students and faculty who advocate for self-determination for Palestinians. He has abused the OCR complaint process by pushing frivolous protests that only serve to harass and stifle the speech of students he disagrees with. After OCR concluded in 2011 that accusations of campus antisemitism were false and that pro-Palestinian activism was merely the “robust and discordant expressions” common to universities, Marcus still boasted that “even when [charges of antisemitism are] rejected,” they still “expose administrators to bad publicity.” As Assistant Secretary, he’ll be able to wield the threat of bad publicity in an attempt to force universities to restrict the rights of groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine.

At a time of resurgent white identity politics and threats to minority communities, students and faculty deserve an Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights who will protect their civil rights—not a man who claims he cannot name a single civil rights violation committed by the Trump administration. Senators should do the right thing and reject Marcus’ nomination. As Senator Elizabeth Warren said at Marcus’ committee hearing, “I don’t think we need someone in this position whose view of civil rights enforcement is to do as little as possible to protect as few students as possible.”

Links to our organizations: American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Dream Defenders

National Center for Transgender Equality

 

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The look on this guy’s face is screaming that he is a smug, ignorant, arrogant, racist.

It is amusing to consult the Wikipedia entry for Kenneth Marcus, paeans of praise. Said by the Wikipedia editors to be written like an advertisement. The editors ask for honest editing from the Wikipedia readership.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_L._Marcus

Networks are indispensable for getting ahead.

The kind of guy that kicks your cat/dog when you’re not looking and a sobbing insincere coward if caught. Why would tRUMP nominate a man that has done/attempted such violence to civil rights as his Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights ? What does tRUMP/anyone gain in doing so? (assuming for… Read more »

“Marcus has long opposed affirmative action, which seeks to correct past and present-day exclusion of Black students, as “racial prejudice” against white students. For Marcus, the fact that Black students are underrepresented at elite universities isn’t due to the legacy and persistence of racism, but the “cultural dysfunction” of Black… Read more »

More than a few Trump nominees lie on a scale between Scooby Do henchman and pure evil. Devos, Pruitt and this guy for starters