By: Teddy Grant
Kristen Clarke was confirmed to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division on Tuesday, despite intense pushback from Republicans over her views on policing, according to CNN.
She was approved in a 51-48 vote, with Maine Senator Susan Collins being the only Republican to vote for her. Clarke is the first Black woman to lead the division since its creation in 1957.
“Our nation is a healthier place when we respect the rights of all communities. In every role I’ve held, I have worked for and with people of all backgrounds — regardless of race, national origin, religion and disability status,” Clarke wrote at her confirmation hearing in April. “I’ve listened deeply to all sides of debates, regardless of political affiliation. There is no substitute to listening and learning in this work, and I pledge to you that I will bring that to the role if confirmed.”
Republicans previously went after Clarke following her nomination when they discovered she co-authored an article as an undergraduate in Harvard, where comparisons of the genetics of Black and white people were made.
The GOP also criticized Clarke for her stance on police reform, where she said police need to be reallocated to social programs, according to CNN.
“I do not support defunding the police,” Clarke said at her hearing. “I do support finding strategies to ensure that law enforcement can carry out their jobs more safely and effectively and channeling resources to emotional health treatment and other severely under-resourced areas.”
Sen. Josh Hawley told CNN last week that there’s a “pattern of nominees by this administration have a very sort of radical leftist background.”
NAACP President Derrick Johnson told CNN he thinks fierce opposition to Clarke’s nomination is because she’s Black.
“I think it’s race, there is no other way to describe it,” Johnson said. “No one else is being treated the way they are being treated in this moment. When you compare that to the appointments that the former administration presented, and how underqualified they were for the positions, especially for lifetime appointments to the federal bench, you can’t draw any other conclusion but [that] it is racially motivated.”