Durbin to Chair New Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights Subcommittee

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) made the following statement today after Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) announced the creation of the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights Subcommittee and named Durbin as its Chairman:

“Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt reminds us that many will risk their lives for the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution. As Chairman of this subcommittee, I will do my best to honor the Constitution with issues and debate befitting this great document.”

“I will also continue to work to ensure that America remains committed to human rights at home and abroad.”

“I’m pleased to assume the chairmanship of this important subcommittee and look forward to working closely with its ranking member, Senator Graham. I thank Chairman Leahy and look forward to this subcommittee’s first meeting.”

The Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights was formed by merging the Constitution Subcommittee, which had been chaired by former Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), and the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee, which Durbin previously chaired.

The Subcommittee will have jurisdiction over all constitutional issues, and all legislation and policy related to civil rights, civil liberties and human rights. In preparation for taking over the new Subcommittee, Durbin recently chaired the first-ever hearing on the constitutionality of the health care law. The Ranking Member of the Subcommittee will be Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Durbin had served as the Chairman of the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee since January 2007, when the Subcommittee was first created. The Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee was the first-ever standing body of the Senate to focus on human rights. During his tenure as Chairman, Durbin authored landmark human-rights legislation, including the Genocide Accountability Act, the Fair Sentencing Act, the Human Rights Enforcement Act, the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, and the Child Soldier Prevention Act. He held the first-ever Congressional hearings on important human-rights issues, including genocide law, child soldiers, crimes against humanity, human-rights enforcement, human-rights treaty implementation, and sexual violence in conflict.

In addition to Durbin and Graham, other members of the Subcommittee will be: Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT); and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Al Franken (D-MN), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Tom Coburn (R-OK).

In addition to chairing the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights Subcommittee, Durbin will also serve on the Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee and the Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security Subcommittee.