Posted by Arab American Institute on in Blog
The Senate floor is set to vote tomorrow on the nomination of Kenneth Marcus for the position of Assistant Secretary of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education. His appointment would be a huge setback for free speech and civil rights protections in our academic environment.
Marcus has long tried to undermine Palestine activism on college campuses. One of such efforts is his advocacy for the adoption of an overly-broad, political definition of anti-Semitism, currently introduced in the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act,” which includes criticism of the state of Israel. This is just one of the many ways his appointment would suppress free speech and undermine civil rights protections in academia. Check out our letter for more details.
Marcus has a troubling history of selectively advocating for civil rights protections. He does not support free speech for all students or protections created to combat the rise in sexual assaults on campus, he has undermined protection for LGBTQ individuals by arguing against the protection of sexual orientation under federal law, and his disdain for legislatively mandated civil rights protections including the framework for hate crime laws has been documented on the record numerous times. His actions indicate that, especially at a time when we need a strong commitment to the equal application of civil rights protections, Marcus is not a suitable candidate to direct the OCR (you can learn more by watching this 5-minute video).