Posted by Arab American Institute on June 07, 2018 in Blog


June 7, 2018

CONTACT: Jennifer Salan / (202) 429-9210 

Arab American Civil Rights Group Responds to Confirmation of Kenneth Marcus as Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights for Education 

Washington, DC - Today, Arab American Institute Executive Director Maya Berry released the following statement in response to the Senate’s confirmation of Kenneth Marcus as the Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights for the Department of Education: 

"Along straight party lines, the Senate voted today to confirm Ken Marcus as the head of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Education by a narrow margin of 50 to 46. Both Marcus’ track record and testimony betray a history that places politics over civil rights at the expense of America’s students.

Mr. Marcus has opposed the inclusion of sexual orientation into the list of protected groups under civil rights laws. He has opposed hate crime legislation, dismissing such policies as products of a “multicultural agenda.” Marcus has also demonstrated a propensity to use the authority of the federal government to suppress criticism of a foreign country—Israel—under the guise of combatting anti-Semitism.

As we see an increase in hate on college campuses, we need a civil rights office that will protect all students instead of wasting limited resources by reprioritizing the goals of the Office of Civil Rights from addressing harassment and acts of hate to policing political discourse.

Today’s Senate vote confirming Mr. Marcus means the very office that must uphold civil rights will take a backseat in protecting the rights of some students—ones Marcus may disagree with—including LGBTQ students, victims of hate, supporters of Palestinian rights, and all students from historically marginalized groups. Instead of protecting them, Marcus’ record suggests he is more likely to violate their civil rights.

Marcus was confirmed with the vote of nearly every single Republican senator, even though many have expressed concerns about the state of free speech on our college campuses. His disregard for the First Amendment was ignored when they voted to confirm him, and students on college campuses will suffer for their lack of leadership.

As Ken Marcus assumes his duties under President Donald Trump and Secretary Betsy DeVos, we will be watching closely and demanding oversight of his office to protect the rights of all. We will be vigilant in demanding oversight. The equal protection of America’s students deserves nothing less.” 


Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent. AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. For more information please visit