On Saturday, a few hours after a murderous white nationalist plowed his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters against the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Congressman Goodlatte issued a forceful statement:
These remarks are welcome, but if Goodlatte really means what he says, his words need to be translated into positive action.
One thing he can do immediately is join the sadly small minority of his Republican colleagues in their criticism of President Trump for his shameful efforts to equate the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville with those who turned out to protest against them. And he can call for Trump to fire the alt-right enabler Steve Bannon from his administration.
If Goodlatte is serious about opposing racism, he might want to use his position as chair of the House Judiciary Committee to strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act to protect minority voters against discrimination– something he has adamantly refused to do.
And he might also schedule Judiciary Committee hearings on the threat of domestic terrorism such as occurred on Saturday and on the rise of white supremacy. (Since 2001, far-right extremists have committed the vast majority of terrorist attacks in the US.) Despite calls for such hearings by Democratic committee members, he shows no sign of doing so.
“It’s important that Congress represent the people of the United States, especially when the executive [branch] refuses to deal with … or actively empowers racist or neo-Nazi groups,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee.
Nadler says Democrats’ request for a greater focus on domestic extremism have been rebuffed for months. Committee Democrats say they’ve reached out to Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) for action but so far have yet to reach agreement.
“The committee doesn’t have a hearing planned at this time,” said a Judiciary Committee aide.
Your move, Congressman.