Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Throughout his tenure, Congressman Dingell has fought to ensure all Americans are granted equal rights. He was a leader in the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and was present at itssigning by President Johnson. More recently, he supported the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, the passage of the first federal hate crimes bill, and the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA). During the 111th Congress, Congressman Dingell has co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009, which would repeal military's the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, and the Honest and Open Testimony Act, which would protect those wishing to testify about Don't Ask Don't Tell from retribution. In addition, Congressman Dingell supported the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands the scope of those who are protected under federal hate crimes statutes to include the gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation of any person. The Democratic Congress enacted this landmark bill by including it in the fiscal year (FY) 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, P.L. 111-288.
Congressman Dingell has long believed that America does not need to compromise individual civil liberties, like the right to privacy, in order to fight our adversaries. He was one of only 66 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act when it was first considered in 2001, believing that the legislation was rushed to the floor without proper consideration and endangered the civil liberties protections that Americans have long cherished. He again voted against reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act in 2006. Congressman Dingell also voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006 because it did not provide habeas corpus rights to detainees held by the U.S. government. Congressman Dingell continues to support President Obama's proposal to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.
Click here to see a letter Congressman Dingell sent with his colleagues to President Obama asking him to appoint qualified individuals to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent Executive Branch agency that ensures the Executive Branch is implementing laws, regulations, and policies in a way that properly considers privacy and civil liberties.
Congressman Dingell is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. He is a longtime member of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus and a lifetime member and prior board member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Congressman Dingell has long believed in an individual's right to own a firearm for lawful purposes, a right the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 is guaranteed by the Constitution. The Congressman also has a record of working for common-sense regulations that enjoy the support of gun rights groups and gun control groups in order to prevent gun violence.
In the wake of the tragic 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, Congressman Dingell and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced H.R. 2640, legislation providing states with grants to input records of potentially dangerous individuals into the national background check database. This bill will provide the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) with better information, better technology and clearer standards to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from slipping through the cracks to obtain weapons. In creating this legislation, he worked with the NRA to ensure that Americans' Second Amendment rights are protected and to ensure that those who have wrongly been included in the system have a way to get out.
In December 2007, the House and Senate passed the legislation (Public Law 110-180), marking the first gun violence prevention legislation passed in Congress in over a decade.
Congressman Dingell continues to lead the fight to fund the NICS system so law enforcement has the resources it needs to keep firearms away from dangerous individuals and others who are prohibited from owning them by law. In March 2010, Congressman Dingell sent a letter with his colleagues to the Appropriations Committee to ask for the fully authorized amount of $375 million to ensure the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 is implemented.
In a landmark victory for 2nd Amendment supporters, the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia vs. Heller that an individual has the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self defense. In an effort to ensure the District of Columbia is in compliance with the ruling, Congressman Dingell helped write the Second Amendment Enforcement Act, which was introduced in the 110th Congress. Congressman Dingell is an original cosponsor similar legislation in the 111th Congress, H.R. 5162, introduced by Congressman Travis Childers (D-MS) on April 28, 2010.