The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is a federal commission tasked with protecting the civil rights of all people residing in the United States. It investigates and studies and issues reports on various types of discrimination based on gender, race, religion, age, disability, or national origin. Created as a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the commission was originally intended to be temporary, but Congress has repeatedly renewed its mandate.
The commission was established as a result of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which was signed into law by President
The commission performs three basic tasks to protect civil rights:
•investigating citizen allegations of voter discrimination by reason of race, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or by fraud
•collecting and analyzing information relating to discrimination or denials of equal protection of the law under the
•reviewing federal laws and policies with respect to discrimination and denial of equal rights
In carrying out its tasks, the commission issues public service announcements to discourage discrimination, holds hearings and issues subpoenas for documentation and witnesses at such hearings, and provides investigative reports to the president and his top cabinet officials, including the U.S. attorney general, regarding issues of discrimination. Because the commission has no real enforcement powers, it refers countless complaints to various federal, state, or local government enforcement agencies for appropriate legal action.
In 2009, the commission still had eight commissioners, who serve six-year staggered terms. Four commissioners are appointed directly by the president, two by the president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, and two by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. To avoid issues related to political ideologies, no more than four commissioners may be from the same political party. Furthermore, each pair of Senate and House appointees cannot be from the same political party. The president, with the consent of the majority of commission members, can designate a chair, vice chair, and staff director. Additionally, the commission appoints fifty-one state advisory committees to serve as watchdogs in the fifty states and the District of Columbia.
Dulles, Rhea. The Civil Rights Commission, 1957-1965. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1968. Jackson, Donald W., and James W. Riddlesperger Jr. “The Eisenhower Administration and the 1957 Civil Rights Act.” In Reexamining the Eisenhower Presidency, edited by Shirley Anne Warshaw. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.
Civil Rights movement
Japanese American Citizens League
Ku Klux Klan
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
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