Civil and Human Rights Must Be Advanced in 2023 and Beyond

Editorial credit: Consolidated News Photos /

Over the past two years, the Biden-Harris administration has made significant progress following four years of an administration committed to turning back the clock on civil and human rights.

And during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Biden underscored his support for some of our coalition’s outstanding priorities, including:

  • Protecting the fundamental right to vote and defending our democracy.
  • Passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to help ensure that working people are paid fairly, treated with dignity, and have a voice on the job.
  • Passing the Equality Act so that no person faces discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love.
  • Passing legislation, like the Women’s Health Protection Act, to ensure abortion access for all and to protect the ability of people who can become pregnant to control their own bodies, lives, and futures.
  • Reinstating the expanded child tax credit to reduce child poverty and improve economic mobility, particularly for families of color, without reducing workforce participation.
  • Closing the Medicaid coverage gap so that the more than 2.2 million adults, 60 percent of whom are people of color, living in states that have not adopted the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion can finally access health care under the ACA.
  • Passing comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, and essential workers.
  • Ensuring access to sick dayspaid family and medical leave, and affordable child care to give millions of people in the United States the opportunity to meet their caregiving responsibilities while promoting and protecting the economic security of working people and their families.
  • Imposing stricter limits on the personal data that Big Tech companies can collect on all of us and ensure they are held accountable for the data they collect and use — especially when those actions impact individuals’ lives. Privacy rights are civil rights.

It was also notable that President Biden used this State of the Union address to speak powerfully about Tyre Nichols in the presence of his family. We urgently need police reform in this country, and we are prepared to work with President Biden and with Congress to finally get it done. Because let’s be clear: To ensure all people can feel safe and be safe, we must end racist and classist systems of criminalization and ensure transformation premised on actual safety and genuine accountability.

Though it wasn’t addressed in his speech, we must also recognize one of the Biden-Harris administration’s most significant accomplishments that will reverberate for generations: progress towards building an equal justice judiciary, including the historic nomination and confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. During his first two years in office, the Senate — with important leadership from Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — confirmed 97 lifetime judicial nominees, including many former civil rights lawyers and public defenders. Three quarters were women, and nearly half were women of color. The confirmation of diverse and highly qualified judges who are committed to civil and human rights is profoundly important and must continue in the 118th Congress and beyond.

Last month, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights wrote to members of Congress, President Biden, and Vice President Harris to present our coalition’s topline civil and human rights priorities for the 118th Congress and the Biden-Harris administration. Together with our 11 task forces, we identified and developed these legislative and executive priorities that represent a path forward for our country in advancing social and economic justice. Our task forces are largely composed of coalition members with expertise in each issue area featured in our priority letters — and these issues include census, education, employment, fair courts, fair housing and lending, hate and bias, health care, immigration, justice reform, media and telecommunications, and voting rights.

While the state of our union is strong, the state of our civil and human rights must be stronger. In 2023 and beyond, we look forward to continuing to work with the Biden-Harris administration and with members of Congress — alongside our coalition members — to strengthen the civil and human rights of every person in the United States.

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