Joseph Lieberman on Civil Rights

Democratic Jr Senator (CT), ran for V.P. with Gore, ran for president 2004

Flag burning is abhorrent, but not a constitutional issue

Q: Should the Constitution be amended to prohibit burning the American flag?

A: I have consistently opposed a flag-burning amendment, and voted against its passage. Flag desecration is hateful and worthy of condemnation, and I would support any statutory means possible to curtail desecration of the flag. But I believe that the importance of the Bill of Rights -- our nation's founding document -- requires us to establish a very high threshold for agreeing to change it. Does the amendment address some extreme threat to our country, or redress some outrageous wrong? In this case, abhorrent though flag desecration may be, it simply does not meet that test.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "Flag Amendment" Jan 25, 2004

Allow driver's license for immigrants

Q: Would you allow driver's license for immigrants?

A: Yes, I absolutely would. And I would because it is obviously better for those immigrants and for the rest of America that they be driving with a license instead of without a license. And if they have a license, they are more likely to be driving with insurance. So it makes no sense to me to punitively deprive them of that opportunity.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Support reparation legislations

Q: Would you propose or back legislation in support of reparations?

A: When Congressman Conyers introduced that legislation, I thought it was a good idea and I would support it. We ought to bring that out again and talk about it, and then talk about what we can do about it. This is going to be more future-oriented in terms of response, to turn around some of the abandonment of people that's gone on under this Bush administration -- fully fund education, raise people up in that way.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Sunset the Patriot Act

Q: How would you protect the civil liberties of Arab-Americans?

A: The best thing we did with the Patriot Act was to sunset it. Almost 800 foreign nationals, immigrants, mostly Arab-Americans or people who looked like Arab-Americans, were arrested, put in jail, held without charges, no notification for their families and no right to counsel. That's un-American and I'll fight to end that. If we fight the terrorists who attacked us because of our liberties by compromising our liberties, shame on us.

Source: CNN "Rock The Vote" Democratic Debate Nov 5, 2003

Marched with Martin Luther King in 1963; keep dream alive

Q: America is still very uncomfortable talking about race. Could you promise that you would put it on the front burner?

LIEBERMAN: No people have been more outrageously denied an equal opportunity to live out the American dream than African-Americans, from the brutal stain of slavery to racial segregation by law to the two-tier society we still live in. Before I got into politics, my first act of public service was in the civil rights movement. I marched with Dr. King 40 years ago, I went to Mississippi to fight in 1963 for the right of African Americans to vote. It pains me to look back to 2000 and realize that though we eliminated the laws that stopped African-Americans from voting, they all were not allowed to vote in Florida. I'm going to talk about race and keep marching with Dr. King and his spirit for jobs and freedom and equality until the dream that Dr. King enunciated 40 years ago is fully realized. This is from my heart. This will define my presidency.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

Marched with MLK, fought for voting rights in Mississippi

Forty years ago this year I marched with Dr. King in Washington, and then I went to Mississippi to fight for the right of African-Americans to vote. It is a thrill for that reason for me to be at this debate in this state of South Carolina, which will host an early presidential primary next year, which will give African American voters the greatest opportunity to influence the selection of a Democratic presidential candidate that they have probably ever had. That thrills me. I am proud of it.
Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Opposes laws against gay sex & sodomy; focus on real crime

Q: Here in South Carolina, it's a felony for two gay men to have sex in their own home. Do you support that law? Or is there a fundamental right to privacy that protects that right?

EDWARDS: I believe there is a fundamental right to privacy. I do not believe the government belongs in people's bedrooms. I think that applies to both gay and lesbian couples and heterosexual couples.

MOSELEY-BRAUN: I absolutely agree that gay-lesbian, transgender and bisexual people are entitled to privacy as everybody else.

LIEBERMAN: I don't [support that law]. In fact, the law relates not only to gay couples, but to heterosexual couples as well, and it's a violation of the right of privacy. There is a case right now before the Supreme Court regarding a similar Texas law. I hope and believe it'll be struck down because Lord knows the prosecutors have more important things to do than prosecute cases like this. They ought to be prosecuting drug peddlers and criminals and all the rest.

Source: [X-ref from Edwards] Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Better economy helps blacks: Rising tide raises all boats

GRAHAM: Yesterday we saw the latest unemployment report, which hit 6% for the second time in six months. Among African Americans, unemployment is almost 11%. These are tragedies. As governor of Florida, I facilitated the creation of over 1 million new jobs, [while supporting] diversity & minority businesses. What would you do to solve the unemployment problem and with it the disparity [in unemployment for] African-Americans?

LIEBERMAN: The Bush administration has been an abysmal failure in leading our economy. We've lost 500,000 jobs in the last 3 months, disproportionately among African-Americans. Bush has one answer to every problem, which is a tax cut, one that we can't afford, one that is unfair, and one we now know doesn't work.

We've got to go back to the policies that worked during the Clinton-Gore years: fiscal discipline; smart tax cuts to help create jobs; and investments in education, health care & homeland security. Let's get the economy going. A rising tide raises all boats.

Source: [X-ref from Graham] Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Support Equal Pay Act for women; plus loans & lawsuits

Women receive 72 cents for every dollar a man receives in a comparable job. One of the goals of our economic plan is to eliminate the pay gap between men and women. It’s unfair and it’s unacceptable. And the first way we will do that is by supporting the Equal Pay Act, which has been proposed in Congress, which gives women the right to file legal actions against employers who are not treating them fairly and not paying them equally.

Secondly, we’re going to do everything we can using governmental support of business agencies, such as the Small Business Administration, to help women business owners have an opportunity to invest and begin businesses and make larger incomes themselves. And there are other civil rights and human rights laws that I think can come to play here.

You know, in so many families, women are a significant bread earner or the only bread earner, so this cause affects not only the women, but families and the children as well.

Source: Vice-presidential debate Oct 5, 2000

Equalize pay for women; it’s unfair and unacceptable

Q: On average an American working woman earns 75 cents for each dollar earned by a working male.

LIEBERMAN: Great advances have been made by women achieving the kind of equality that they were too long denied. But your question is absolutely right. One of the goals of our economic plan is to eliminate the pay gap between men and women. It’s unfair and it’s unacceptable. Until women are receiving the same amount of pay for the same job they’re doing as a man receives, we’ve not achieved genuine equality in this country. And Al Gore and I are committed to closing that gap and achieving that equality.

CHENEY: We’ve made major progress in recent years [but] we’ve still got a ways to go. But I also think it’s not just about the differential with respect to women. If you look at our opponents’ tax proposal, they discriminate between stay-at-home moms with children that they take care of themselves and those who go to work or who have their kids taken care of outside the home.

Source: Vice-presidential debate Oct 5, 2000

I do support, and will support affirmative action

Lieberman in 1995 called preferences based on race or gender “patently unfair,” and after making clear his firm opposition to racial quotas, said most affirmative action programs had run their course. He sought to calm the fears of Democratic National Committee Black Caucus members Tuesday with a speech in which he declared, “I have supported affirmative action, I do support affirmative action and I will support affirmative action.”
Source: CNN.com Aug 16, 2000

Never supported CA Prop. 209 banning affirmative action

Lieberman blamed himself for a what he called a mixup over his position on Proposition 209 -- a 1996 California ballot initiative that banned state-funded affirmative action programs. He said he had not read the language of the ballot initiative when he was first asked about it by a reporter. Lieberman said “that sounds like a basic statement of human rights policy.” He said he later rejected entreaties to publicly endorse the ballot initiative and to campaign for its passage.
Source: CNN.com Aug 16, 2000

Support affirmative action and end all discrimination

I have tried to see America through the eyes of families who had the deck stacked against them but fought back. In my life I have tried to see this world through the eyes of those who have suffered discrimination. And that’s why I believe that the time has come to tear down the remaining walls of discrimination in this nation based on race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation. And that’s why I continue to say, when it comes to affirmative action: Mend it, don’t end it.
Source: Speech to the Democrat Convention Aug 16, 2000

Supports affirmative action now; but phase it out by 2010

Lieberman last month signed the “Hyde Park Declaration,” which recommends “resisting an ‘identity politics’ that confers rights and entitlements on groups.” The declaration said the goal for 2010 should be to “shift the emphasis of affirmative action strategies from group preferences to economic empowerment of all disadvantaged citizens.”

That appears to put Lieberman at odds with the party’s platform, and Gore, who strongly endorses affirmative action. But late yesterday, a spokesman said Lieberman was one of a number of prominent Democrats in 1995 who “raised questions about the future of affirmative action and its effectiveness.” After the senator was criticized for his remarks, Lieberman “clarified” his position and “reaffirmed his support for affirmative action.” The declaration merely reflects Lieberman’s hope that by 2010, such programs will no longer be needed. Indeed, Lieberman has twice voted against GOP attempts to gut government affirmative action programs.

Source: Robinson & Milligan, Boston Globe, p. A1 Aug 11, 2000

Affirmative action is “patently unfair”, in 1995

In 1995, Lieberman clearly stated his opposition to affirmative action programs: “You can’t defend policies that are based on group preferences as opposed to individual opportunities, which is what America has always been about.” Lieberman said he supported a 1996 California ballot initiative which ended racial preference programs in that state. “When we have such policies,” he said, “we have the effect of breaking some of those ties in civil society that have held us together because they are patently unfair. Those who are the victims are going to lose out when a choice is made based on group preference rather than on individual ability.“

At the time, just after Republicans won control of the US House [and pushed] abolishing affirmative action, Democrats were divided over how to respond to preference programs that had generated substantial voter resentment. Rep. Charles Rangel (D, NY), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Lieberman opposes quotas, and not affirmative action.

Source: Robinson & Milligan, Boston Globe, p. A1 Aug 11, 2000

For gay equal employment; against gay marriage

Lieberman has had a mixed record on gay rights. He has opposed gay marriages and was a backer of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to disregard gay marriages recognized by other states. Still, Lieberman did support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits job discrimination against gays.
Source: Susan Milligan, Boston Globe, p. A1 Aug 10, 2000

Affirmative action divides us

Lieberman has been critical of programs that give special breaks to blacks and other groups to make up for past discrimination. Gore has been a strong supporter of affirmative action. In a speech on the Senate floor in 1995, Lieberman said: “Affirmative action is dividing us in ways its creators could never have intended because most Americans who do support equal opportunity and are not biased don’t think it is fair to discriminate against some Americans as a way to make up for historic discrimination against other Americans. For after all, if you discriminate in favor of one group on the basis of race, you thereby discriminate against another group on the basis of race.“
Source: David E. Rosenbaum, NY Times, p. A19 Aug 8, 2000

Expand “Hate Crimes” to include women, gays, and disabled

I support the goals of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act- the federal prosecution of people who inflict serious harm on others because of the color of the victim’s face, the sound of the victim’s foreign accent, or the name of the victim’s religion. In short, these are crimes committed because the victim is different in some way from the perpetrator, and such crimes should be federally prosecuted. But we can and should do more.

I think we ought to add to the list of motivations gender, sexual orientation, and disability. Crimes like that committed against Matthew Shepard, who was killed because he was a gay man, are no less despicable and no less worthy of federal prosecution than are those committed against others currently included in the federal law.

I [further] support broadening the ability of federal prosecutors to pursue crimes motivated by racial or religious hatred. We have always protected those whose rights are trampled upon. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

Source: Senate Statement on Hate Crimes Jun 16, 2000

Participated in MLK’s March On Washington

I was in Washington in the summer of 1963, [so I had] the opportunity to participate in Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, which culminated at the Lincoln Memorial in his soaring “I Have a Dream” speech. For me, this was America at its best. Hundreds of thousands of us, of all religions, races, and nationalities, joined together peacefully but powerfully to petition our government to right the wrong of racial bigotry.
Source: Excerpt from “In Praise of Public Life”, p. 34 May 2, 2000

Express religious faith in schools, within Constitution

Source: Excerpt from “In Praise of Public Life”, p.155-6 May 2, 2000

Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.

Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
Bill S.625 ; vote number 2002-147 on Jun 11, 2002

Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.

Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
Bill S1510 ; vote number 2001-300 on Oct 11, 2001

Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation.

Vote on an amendment that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.
Bill S.2549 ; vote number 2000-136 on Jun 20, 2000

Voted YES on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women.

Vote to table, or kill, an amendment to repeal the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise [DBE] Program, which requires no less than 10% of highway construction projects funded by the federal government to be contracted to 'disadvantaged business enterprises'
Bill S.1173 ; vote number 1998-23 on Mar 6, 1998

Voted NO on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business.

This legislation would have abolished a program that helps businesses owned by women or minorities compete for federally funded transportation.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)48; N)52
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture; Bill S.1173 ; vote number 1997-275 on Oct 23, 1997

Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): Vote to prohibit marriage between members of the same sex in federal law, and provide that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Define 'marriage' as 'between one man and one wo
Bill HR 3396 ; vote number 1996-280 on Sep 10, 1996

Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation.

Would have prohibited job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Status: Bill Defeated Y)49; N)50; NV)1
Reference: Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Bill S. 2056 ; vote number 1996-281 on Sep 10, 1996

Voted NO on Amendment to prohibit flag burning.

Approval of a constitutional amendment which would prohibit desecration or burning of the U.S. flag.
Status: Joint Res. Defeated Y)63; N)36
Reference: Flag Desecration Bill; Bill S. J. Res. 31 ; vote number 1995-600 on Dec 12, 1995

Voted NO on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds.

Vote to disallow any funds in the Legislative Appropriations bill from being used to award, require, or encourage any Federal contract, if the contract is being awarded on the basis of the race, color, national origin, or gender of the contractor.
Bill HR 1854 ; vote number 1995-317 on Jul 20, 1995

Shift from group preferences to economic empowerment of all.

Lieberman signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Strengthen America’s Common Civic Culture
The more ethnically and culturally diverse America becomes, the harder we must all work to affirm our common civic culture -- the values and democratic institutions we share and that define our national identity as Americans. This means we should resist an “identity politics” that confers rights and entitlements on groups and instead affirm our common rights and responsibilities as citizens. Multiethnic democracy requires fighting discrimination against marginalized groups; empowering the disadvantaged to join the economic, political, and cultural mainstream; and respecting diversity while insisting that what we have in common as Americans is more important than how we differ. One way to encourage an ethic of citizenship and mutual obligation is to promote voluntary national service. If expanded to become available to everyone who wants to participate, national service can help turn the strong impulse toward volunteerism among our young people into a major resource in addressing our social problems. It will also help revive a sense of patriotism and national unity at a time when military service is no longer the common experience of young Americans.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC6 on Aug 1, 2000

Rated 40% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record.

Lieberman scores 40% by the ACLU on civil rights issues

We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.

Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002

Increase subsidies for women-owned non-profit business.

Lieberman sponsored the Women's Business Center Safeguard Act

Amends the Small Business Act with respect to the women's business centers program to provide Small Business Administration funding authority for nonprofit organizations conducting projects for the benefit of small businesses owned and controlled by women. Increases from 30 to 54 the percentage of appropriated women's business center funds to be used during FY 2004 for sustained women's business center projects.

Source: Bill sponsored by 11 Senators 03-S2266 on Mar 31, 2004

Other candidates on Civil Rights: Joseph Lieberman on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka

Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform
Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts