Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Washington, D.C.—As President-elect Trump continues to announce his selections for top positions in the new administration, 22 of the nation’s human rights and faith organizations today released a joint statement of principles regarding the eligibility of nominees for Senate-confirmed positions. Today’s statement outlines key requirements of top administration officials that should be evaluated by the Senate during confirmation hearings, including adherence to the U.S. Constitution and adherence to the rule of law.
“It is critical that the Senate demands that all individuals nominated for cabinet positions demonstrate that they intend to honor the constitution and U.S. human rights obligations. The future of America’s role as a beacon for upholding human rights protections and the rule of law hangs in the balance,” said Human Rights First’s Sharon McBride.
“Those nominated to serve in a Trump Administration will hold critical positions affecting millions of people’s human rights. It’s crucial that they commit to upholding this country’s obligations under international and U.S. law. The U.S. cannot hold moral high ground and will never be seen as leader on human rights if it flouts these obligations at home,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
“The team that the leader of the free world assembles must reflect the highest ideals underpinning our nation—both adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights. CWS affirms the importance of a rigorous benchmark of eligibility principles for those nominated to top posts in the incoming administration. We urge the Senate to weigh these standards prudently during their confirmations. The very course our country will soon take depends on it,” said Rev. John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service.
The joint statement reads as follows:
As President-elect Trump undertakes the process of selecting his cabinet members and other high-ranking administration officials, it is imperative that nominees support the U.S. Constitution, embody American ideals of inclusion and respect for all individuals, uphold our democratic processes and institutions, and respect our nation’s human rights obligations. While each of the undersigned organizations has additional priorities and will respond to the incoming administration accordingly, we all believe that potential cabinet members and senior administration appointees should adhere to the following principles:
Adherence to the U.S. Constitution
Nominees for Senate-confirmed positions who support taking actions or enacting policies that are objectively unconstitutional, and especially provisions designed to undermine individual liberties and equal protection under the law, should be deemed unsuitable for those positions by the Senate. An example of such an action would be implementing a ban on people of a specific faith entering the country or advocating policies that violate the civil rights or liberties of any particular group of people.
Adherence to the Rule of Law and Human Rights Obligations
Nominees for Senate-confirmed positions who support taking actions or enacting policies that would violate U.S. laws or international conventions protecting human rights to which the United States is a signatory should be deemed unsuitable for those positions by the Senate. A willingness or desire to order the use of torture would fall into this category. The same standard for unsuitability would also apply to any nominee who has previously been involved in authorizing or implementing human rights or civil liberties violations.
Signatories for today’s statement organized by Human Rights First include Alliance for Citizenship, Amnesty International USA, Brooklyn for Peace, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Center for Victims of Torture, Church World Service, Human Rights First,, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, National Council of Jewish Women, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, North Carolina Stop Torture Now, Peace Action, Peace Action Bay Ridge, Presbyterian Church (USA), Program for Torture Victims, The Advocates for Human Rights, USC International Human Rights Clinic, UUSC: Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Voices for Progress, Win Without War, and Women’s Action for New Directions.