Senate Judiciary Committee splits 11-11 on Clarke nomination

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on two of Joe Biden’s nominees for top Justice Department jobs. The nominees are Todd Kim for Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for the Environment and Natural Resources Division and Kristen Clarke for AAG for the Civil Rights Division.

The committee reported Kim out on a bipartisan basis. However, the vote on Clarke was 11-11, along strict party lines. Not surprisingly, no Republican member was willing to vote in favor of a civil rights nominee with a history of expressing anti-Semitic, Black supremist, and anti-police sentiments. Not surprisingly, no Democratic member had any compunction about voting for such a nominee.

The committee vote on Clarke mirrored its vote on Vanita Gupta, who is nearly as awful, for Associate Attorney General. Gupta ultimately was confirmed by a vote of 51-49.

Clarke very likely will be confirmed, too. I expect Joe Manchin to vote for her and probably Lisa Murkowski, as well.

If Manchin and Murkowski run for reelection, I hope they will be called on to explain their votes. I doubt that Alaska Republicans and West Virginia voters as a whole agree with Gupta and Clarke about policing and the police or, for that matter, about race relations in general.

Any candidate wishing to call attention to Manchin and Murkowski’s vote (assuming they back Clarke’s nomination) should listen to the presentations by Republican Senators during the “markup” on Clarke’s nomination. They can be viewed here. I recommend, in particular, the speeches of Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Lee’s begins at around the 50 minute mark; Cruz’s at around one hour and five minutes.

Both Senators attack Clarke’s record along the lines we presented here, here, and here (for example). They also added material we have not discussed.

Lee argued, persuasively, that Clarke opposes voter suppression only if it adversely affects certain groups (no need to guess which ones). He showed that in cases where the white vote is suppressed (the Ike Brown case being the most notorious), Clarke seems fine with voter suppression.

Lee also pointed to Clarke’s terrible record on protecting against religious-based discrimination. He demonstrated her blatant disregard for the constitutionally-protected religious rights of certain groups — rights it will be her duty to enforce if she’s confirmed.

Lee also focused on Clarke’s support, in a 2019 letter, for Tamika Mallory, a radical who asserted that white Jews uphold white supremacy.

Cruz homed in a statement Clarke made about the police, a statement so offensive — so sickening — that it should disqualify her from a top DOJ position quite apart from her call in 2020 for defunding the police (and her dishonest refusal to admit that she advocated defunding).

Clarke called the police the new KKK, “with blue uniforms replacing the hoods.” If Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski vote to confirm Clarke, this statement should be thrown at them non-stop the next time they face the voters.

It’s possible, in theory, that Clarke’s tenure at the DOJ won’t be marred by the anti-police dogma she has spewed over the years. In that case, Manchin and Murkowski won’t have much explaining to do.

But if Manchin and Murkowski believe that Clarke will do an about-face on police and policing, they are deceiving themselves.