Russell Feingold on Civil Rights
Democratic Jr Senator (WI)
The Patriot Act allows people to monitor your computer usage
FEINGOLD: I found some things in [the PATRIOT Act] that were deeply troubling, opportunities for people to monitor your computer usage, to get into your home & your library records without any demonstration of a connection to terrorism.
We can talk about all these boogie men. There have been no civil liberty violations via the Patriot Act. There hasn’t been a terrorist attack in this country in over 3 years and 8 al Qaeda cells have been broken up because of the Patriot Act.
Source: WI Senate Debate, on NBC15.Madison.com
Oct 20, 2004
Shouldn’t change the Constitution to ban gay marriage
We should treat gays and lesbians like everybody else. We all should have the same rights.
The federal government shouldn’t be changing the Constitution. We should be focusing on other priorities.
Source: WI Senate Debate, in Washington Post
Oct 18, 2004
Voted NO on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration.
The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
- the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
- the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
- abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
- destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Proponents of the Resolution say:
- Fifty State legislatures have called on us to pass this amendment. This amendment simply says that "Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."
- In other words, in passing this amendment, we would give to
Congress the power that the Supreme Court took away in 1989.
- 48 States had anti-desecration measures on the books before 1989. It was then that five unelected judges told those 48 sovereign entities that they were wrong.
Opponents of the Resolution say:
Reference: Flag Desecration Amendment;
; vote number 2006-189
on Jun 27, 2006
- I am deeply offended when people burn or otherwise abuse this precious national symbol.
- I also believe that the values and beliefs that the American flag represents are more important than the cloth from which this symbol was created.
- Prominent among these beliefs are the right to voice views that are unpopular, and the right to protest.
- I oppose this amendment not because I condone desecration of our flag, but because I celebrate the values our flag represents. Flag burning is despicable. However, the issue is whether we should amend our great charter document, the Constitution, to proscribe it.
- Is this a problem needing such strong medicine? Are we facing an epidemic of flag burnings?
Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment;
Bill S. J. Res. 1
; vote number 2006-163
on Jun 7, 2006
Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.
Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
; vote number 2002-147
on Jun 11, 2002
Voted NO on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.
Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
; vote number 2001-300
on Oct 11, 2001
Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation.
Vote on an amendment that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.
; vote number 2000-136
on Jun 20, 2000
Voted YES on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women.
Vote to table, or kill, an amendment to repeal the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise [DBE] Program, which requires no less than 10% of highway construction projects funded by the federal government to be contracted to 'disadvantaged business enterprises'
; vote number 1998-23
on Mar 6, 1998
Voted NO on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business.
This legislation would have abolished a program that helps businesses owned by women or minorities compete for federally funded transportation.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)48; N)52
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture;
; vote number 1997-275
on Oct 23, 1997
Voted NO on prohibiting same-sex marriage.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): Vote to prohibit marriage between members of the same sex in federal law, and provide that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Define 'marriage' as 'between one man and one woman.'
Bill HR 3396
; vote number 1996-280
on Sep 10, 1996
Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation.
Would have prohibited job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Status: Bill Defeated Y)49; N)50; NV)1
Reference: Employment Non-Discrimination Act;
Bill S. 2056
; vote number 1996-281
on Sep 10, 1996
Voted NO on Amendment to prohibit flag burning.
Approval of a constitutional amendment which would prohibit desecration or burning of the U.S. flag.
Status: Joint Res. Defeated Y)63; N)36
Reference: Flag Desecration Bill;
Bill S. J. Res. 31
; vote number 1995-600
on Dec 12, 1995
Voted NO on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds.
Vote to disallow any funds in the Legislative Appropriations bill from being used to award, require, or encourage any Federal contract, if the contract is being awarded on the basis of the race, color, national origin, or gender of the contractor.
Bill HR 1854
; vote number 1995-317
on Jul 20, 1995
Rated 80% by the ACLU, indicating a pro-civil rights voting record.
Feingold scores 80% by the ACLU on civil rights issues
The mission of the ACLU is to preserve protections and guarantees America’s original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights:
We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.
- Your First Amendment rights-freedom of speech, association and assembly. Freedom of the press, and freedom of religion supported by the strict separation of church and state.
- Your right to equal protection under the law - equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
- Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002
Sponsored bill for special-needs evacuation plans.
Feingold introduced including special-needs people in emergency evacuation plans
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to ensure the evacuation of individuals with special needs in times of emergency.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: One of the most striking things about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina is that the majority of stranded victims were our society's most vulnerable members--low-income families, the elderly, the homeless, the disabled. Many did not own cars. Many believed themselves unable to flee the city, unable to forego the income from missed work, unable to incur the expenses of travel, food and lodging. Some may have misunderstood the severity of the warnings, if they heard the warnings at all. Some may have needed help that was unavailable. Whatever the reason, they were not evacuated and we have seen the horrific results.
This failure to evacuate so many of the most desperate citizens of the
Gulf Coast leads me to introduce today a bill to require states and the nation to consider the needs of our neediest citizens in times of emergency. It appears that certain assumptions were made in planning and preparing for the worst case scenario in the Gulf Coast. After all, most of those who could afford to evacuate managed to do so. They drove out of town and checked into hotels or stayed with friends and family. But what about the thousands of people left behind because they had special needs?
Communities with special needs may be more challenging to accommodate, but they are every bit as important to protect and serve in the event of an emergency. What we saw in the Gulf Coast cannot be repeated. We may not be able to control the wrath of Mother Nature, but we can control how we prepare for natural disasters.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; never came to a vote.
Source: Emergency planning bill (S.1685) 05-S1685 on Sep 12, 2005
Rated 89% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.
Feingold scores 89% by the HRC on gay rights
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:
About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):
- 0% - 20%: opposes gay rights (approx. 207 members)
- 20% - 70%: mixed record on gay rights (approx. 84 members)
- 70%-100%: supports gay rights (approx. 177 members)
The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.
Source: HRC website 06n-HRC on Dec 31, 2006
Rated 96% by the NAACP, indicating a pro-affirmative-action stance.
Feingold scores 96% by the NAACP on affirmative action
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:
About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):
- 0% - 33%: anti-affirmative-action stance (approx. 177 members)
- 34% - 84%: mixed record on affirmative-action (approx. 96 members)
- 85%-100%: pro-affirmative-action stance (approx. 190 members)
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels.
From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.
Source: NAACP website 06n-NAACP on Dec 31, 2006
Recognize Juneteenth as historical end of slavery.
Feingold co-sponsored recognizing Juneteenth as historical end of slavery
A resolution recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day and expressing that history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future.
Recognizes the historical significance to the nation, and supports the continued celebration, of Juneteenth Independence Day (June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved African Americans were free). Declares the sense of Congress that:
Legislative Outcome: House versions are H.CON.RES.155 and H.RES.1237; related Senate resolution S.RES.584 counts for sponsorship. Resolution agreed to in Senate, by Unanimous Consent.
Source: S.RES.584 08-SR584 on Jun 4, 2008
- history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future; and
- the celebration of the end of slavery is an important and enriching part of the history and heritage of the United States.
Provide benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees.
Feingold co-sponsored providing benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees
Sen. LIEBERMAN: This legislation would require the Government to extend employee benefit programs to the same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees. It is sound public policy and it makes excellent business sense.
Under our bill, Federal employee and the employee's domestic partner would be eligible to participate in benefits to the same extent that married employees and their spouses participate. Employees and their partners would also assume the same obligations that apply to married employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.
The Federal Government is our Nation's largest employer and should lead other employers, rather than lagging behind, in the quest to provide equal and fair compensation and benefits to all employees. That thousands of Federal workers who have dedicated their careers to public service and who live in committed relationships with same-sex domestic partners receive fewer protections for their
families than those married employees is patently unfair and, frankly, makes no economic sense.
I call upon my colleagues to express their support for this important legislation. It is time for the Federal Government to catch up to the private sector, not just to set an example but so that it can compete for the most qualified employees and ensure that all of our public servants receive fair and equitable treatment. It makes good economic and policy senses. It is the right thing to do.
SUMMARY: Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2007
Employees and their domestic partners will have the same benefits as married employees and their spouses under--
Source: Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (S.2521/H.R.4838) 2007-S2521 on Dec 19, 2007
- Employee health benefits
- Retirement and disability plans
- Family, medical, and emergency leave
- Group life insurance
- Long-term care insurance
- Compensation for work injuries
- Death, disability, and similar benefits
- Relocation, travel, and related expenses.
Re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment.
Feingold co-sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment
A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women, which shall be part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of 3/4 of the States:Sen. KENNEDY. "It's a privilege to join my colleagues in reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. The ERA is essential to guarantee that the freedoms protected by our Constitution apply equally to men and women. From the beginning of our history as a Nation, women have had to wage a constant, long and difficult battle to win the same basic rights granted to men. That battle goes on
today, since discrimination still continues in many ways.
- Section 1.Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
- Section 2.The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
- Section 3.This article shall take effect 2 years after the date of ratification.
"Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act & the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, discrimination against women continues to permeate the workforce and many areas of the economy. Today, women earn about 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, and the gap is even greater for women of color. More than 60% of working women are still clustered in a narrow range of traditionally female, traditionally low-paying occupations, and female-headed households continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
"A stronger effort is clearly needed to finally live up to our commitment of full equality. The ERA alone cannot remedy all discrimination, but it will clearly strengthen the ongoing efforts of women across the country to obtain equal treatment.
"We know from the failed ratification experiences of the past that amending the Constitution to include the ERA will not be easy to achieve. But the women of America deserve no less."
Source: Equal Rights Amendment (S.J.RES.10/H.J.RES.40) 2007-SJR10 on Mar 29, 2007
Reinforce anti-discrimination and equal-pay requirements.
Feingold co-sponsored reinforcing anti-discrimination and equal-pay requirements
A bill to restore, reaffirm, and reconcile legal rights and remedies under civil rights statutes. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for:
- establishing discrimination based on disparate impact; and
- rights of action and recovery for unlawful discrimination.
Source: Civil Rights Act of 2008 (S.2554&H.R.5129) 2008-S2554 on Jan 24, 2008
- Authorizes civil actions in federal court for discrimination based on disability.
- Repeals provisions limiting the amount of compensatory and punitive damages that may be awarded in cases of intentional discrimination in employment.
- Revises provisions governing discrimination in the payment of wages, including equal pay requirements.
Investigate deportation of Japanese during WWII.
Feingold signed Relocation of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act
A bill to establish a fact-finding Commission to extend the study of a prior Commission to investigate and determine circumstances surrounding the relocation, internment, and deportation to Axis countries of Latin Americans of Japanese descent during WWII.
- Establishes the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese descent.
- Directs the Commission to extend the study of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to investigate U.S. relocation, internment, and (in some cases) deportation to Axis countries of Latin Americans of Japanese descent held in U.S. custody from December 1941 through February 1948; and recommend appropriate remedies.
Based on a preliminary study published in December 1982 by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Congress finds the following:
Source: S.69 & HR.42 2009-S69 on Jan 6, 2009
- During World War II, the United States expanded its internment program and national security investigations
to conduct the program and investigations in Latin America
- Approximately 2,300 men, women, and children of Japanese descent from 13 Latin American countries were held in the custody of the Department of State in internment camps operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1941 through 1948.
- Those men, women, and children either were arrested without a warrant, hearing, or indictment by local police, and sent to the United States for internment; or in some cases involving women and children, voluntarily entered internment camps to remain with their arrested husbands, fathers, and other male relatives.
- Passports held by individuals who were Latin Americans of Japanese descent were routinely confiscated before the individuals arrived in the United States.
- Despite their involuntary arrival, Latin American internees of Japanese descent were considered to be and treated as illegal entrants by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010