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The Future of the United States Commission on Civil Rights

University of Pennsylvania Law Review PENNumbra, Vol. 159, p. 127, 2010

28 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2011  

Dawinder S. Sidhu

University of Baltimore School of Law; Shook, Hardy & Bacon

Date Written: December 13, 2010


In these series of essays, Professor Lisa Crooms and I debate the merits of a proposal to expand the mandate of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to include monitoring of the nation's compliance with international human rights laws. As the syllabus to the debate notes:

Professor Crooms opens by noting that suggestions to expand the Commission's mandate to include human rights have been around for decades, and argues that such ideas are still worth adopting. She comments that the Commission would have to engage in extensive fact-finding in order to justify such an expansion. Professor Crooms raises further concerns over manipulation of the appointment process for commissioners, but that such manipulation has not necessarily jeopardized the Commission's role. Indeed, she concludes that an expansion of the mandate to include human rights would aid the United States in meeting its treaty obligations and discourage the Commission from ignoring its vital role in responding to important equality issues, including those already within its core mandate.

Professor Sidhu argues that the Commission's current civil rights mandate is too valuable to be expanded because persistent and complex traditional civil rights issues require its determined focus. Ultimately, he writes, the question is how to make the Commission more effective in meeting its existing obligations. Rather than expanding its mandate to include broad human rights oversight, which would dilute the Commission's existing duties, Sidhu contends that the Commission and civil rights compliance more generally would stand to benefit from a reinterpretation of its civil rights mandate, which may generate renewed public and government support for the Commission's work. Sidhu concludes that human rights monitoring may be best assumed by a separate federal independent agency.

Keywords: civil rights, discrimination, equal protection, human rights, monitoring, compliance, oversight

Suggested Citation

Sidhu, Dawinder S., The Future of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (December 13, 2010). University of Pennsylvania Law Review PENNumbra, Vol. 159, p. 127, 2010. Available at SSRN:

Dawinder S. Sidhu (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore School of Law ( email )

1401 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
United States

Shook, Hardy & Bacon

1155 F Street NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20004
United States

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