Civil Rights and Equality

Overview

Tennessee has a strong history of promoting civil rights and equality for all Americans. In 1920, the state of Tennessee cast the deciding vote for women’s suffrage in Nashville. Forty years later, Tennesseans helped to advance the civil rights movement with the student-led sit-ins. Martin Luther King, Jr. said he came to Nashville “not to bring inspiration, but to gain inspiration from the great movement that has taken place in this community.’’

I had the honor of going to Selma, Ala., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”  As I reflect on that historic day, our nation would be a better place if we remember both how far we’ve come and how much work we have yet to accomplish. Our laws today do not overlook all of our differences. That’s why I support legislation and ideas in Congress that strengthen our civil rights and promote equality for all Americans.

If you have the chance, be sure to visit the Civil Rights Collection at the Nashville Public Library. It’s a remarkable collection of Nashville’s history during the civil rights movement, and I hope you’ll also stop by my office while you’re here.

Equality Under the Law

America has been slow at times to expand protections for everyone. But I believe that regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation, everyone deserves equal protection from the government. That’s why I’m a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, which would help ensure that everyone has the basic legal protections they deserve.  

Voting Rights

After the first 10 amendments to the Constitution - the Bill of Rights - seven of the 17 remaining amendments are related to expanding voting rights. No other part of the original Constitution was so broken or so hard to fix. And more repairs are still needed because citizens still do not have an explicit right to vote.

I've offered a proposal to give Americans, for the first time in our history, a constitutional right to vote. My text for the 28th Amendment could not be simpler:

The right of adult citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State.

This proposed amendment bans voter suppression; any future restriction on voting would have to survive “strict scrutiny” by the judiciary. For more about this proposal, click here.

In the meantime, Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act.  In Shelby County v. Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. This section determined which states have a history of voting discrimination and must get federal preapproval before changing their voting laws or practices.

Immigration

America is a nation of immigrants, and we pride ourselves on welcoming individuals and families from all over the world. Nashville is lucky to have one of the greatest immigrant communities in the nation. And I believe that we need comprehensive immigration reform. We can find the right balance to fix our broken system and protect our nation.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan agreement in 2013. It was the most promising development on comprehensive immigration reform we've seen in decades. Support came from 14 Republican senators – including both of our Tennessee senators, Republicans Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker – after the inclusion of new, tough border security measures. There’s a very broad coalition behind this approach. Support ranges from the Chamber of Commerce to Nashville’s colleges and universities to church groups like the Southern Baptists and the Catholic Church. I believe this legislation would have solved many of the issues in our current system, but the House was never even allowed to vote on it.

In 2010, I voted for the DREAM Act, also a part of the Senate proposal, because I believe that those young people who are willing to get an education or serve in our military should be encouraged to pursue the American dream of citizenship. They came to America through no fault of their own; many are now top students, hard workers and brave soldiers. America needs their talent.

More on Civil Rights and Equality

Mar 27, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) made the following statement after H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed the House by voice vote:

“Coronavirus is an unprecedented pandemic, and this is an unprecedented bill. It is the largest economic relief bill passed in America’s history, Rep. Cooper said. “It is important that Congress acted quickly so we can help people and businesses who are struggling. Now the administration needs to get the money out the door fast to help everyone through this crisis.”

Mar 6, 2020 Press Release

NASHVILLE – Following the tornadoes in Tennessee earlier this week, the president has approved Tennessee’s request for Major Disaster Declaration. FEMA released the information below and attached.

 

State of Tennessee

Federal Disaster Declaration Fact Sheet

March 5, 2020

Jan 31, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) announced that he has invited his constituent and executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, Michele Johnson, to attend the 2020 State of the Union address as his guest.

Jan 29, 2020 Press Release

NASHVILLE – Last fall, the Davidson County Election Commission, U.S. Representative Jim Cooper (TN-05), and the Mayor’s Youth Council announced the partnership for the third year of nonpartisan high school voter registration drives. 

In-school registrations were conducted throughout the month of November at 36 area high schools. The voter registration drives successfully increased voter registration by 59% among participating schools. Some schools saw registrations increase by as much as 136%. 

Dec 18, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) issued the following statement on his decision to vote to charge President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress:

Dec 10, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) issued the following statement in response to the two Articles of Impeachment brought forth against President Trump, 
 

Sep 24, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) issued the following statement in support of impeachment proceedings against President Trump:

“It’s time for the House of Representatives to begin the impeachment process against President Trump. The President’s invitation to yet another foreign power—this time Ukraine—to undermine U.S. elections requires that Congress begin the process in our Constitution to levy formal charges against him.

Jun 27, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) made the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling that partisan gerrymandering cannot be decided by federal courts.

Jun 27, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) issued the following response to the Supreme Court’s decision on the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 decennial census.