WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation led by U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) to require the review, declassification, and release of government records related to unsolved criminal civil rights cases. Sens. Cruz and Jones have led a months-long bipartisan effort to provide public access to unsolved civil rights crime documents through their Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act. U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) led the companion legislation in the House. Their bill will now go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“This week has been a historic week for justice,” Sen. Cruz said. “Crimes committed against Americans seeking their rightful place in the American dream during the civil rights movement too often went unsolved. But this bill seeks to right these historic wrongs by disclosing case records so that the public may pursue leads and document these tragic events. I am grateful my colleagues in the House recognize the importance of this issue, and am proud to have worked with Sen. Jones on this bipartisan bill. It is my hope that, with additional sunlight to these cold cases, there will be revelation, justice, and closure where it has long been lacking.”
“This legislation has made a remarkable journey from its conception in a high school classroom to its passage in Congress today. From the students who first brought their draft bill to my attention years ago to the journalists and researchers who study these civil rights cold cases to my colleagues Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Bobby Rush, this was truly a team effort to do the right thing by these victims and their families. While we can’t change history, we can and should do whatever we can to seek truth and healing. Today, we took an important step forward in the effort to ensure justice delayed is not justice denied,” said Senator Jones.
“I was delighted when Senators Jones and Cruz introduced companion legislation to my bill, H.R. 1272, and I am even more excited to see that this bill is on its way to the President’s desk. With the passage of this legislation, families and communities that have waited too long for answers about the loss of loved ones may finally have the chance for closure. This bill came to fruition because of the hard work of a group of students from Hightstown High School in New Jersey and their teacher, Mr. Stuart Wexler, who started this legislative journey when they first visited my office in 2016. I thank these devoted students for their dedication to this cause and applaud them for their diligence,” said Rep. Bobby L. Rush.
The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018 will:
- Require the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to establish a collection of cold case records about unsolved criminal civil rights cases that government offices must publicly disclose in the collection.
- Establish a Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board to facilitate the review, transmission to NARA, and disclosure of government records related to such cases.