Safeguarding Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

As your Senator, I will always put New Jersey’s and America’s values first.  As the recent Supreme Court decision on voting rights proves, guarding our nation’s progress on civil rights and civil liberties requires persistent vigilance.  I will always fight to protect and advance the rights of all Americans, and make the cause of forming a more perfect union and realizing the promise of our democracy a priority central to my work.

Fighting for Marriage Equality

Booker takes on Christie on Gay Marriage, January, 2012

While I believe in finding common ground in the name of progress, and I understand that there are many well-meaning people on the other side of this debate, the issue of equal rights for LGBTQ New Jerseyans is a red line question for me. And now that the Supreme Court has struck down the national tragedy that was DOMA, New Jersey’s Civil Union law is no longer a disgrace on the grounds of bigotry alone. It is plainly substantive discrimination that deprives New Jersey’s gay couples of over 1,100 federal rights, privileges and benefits afforded to married couples. I am confident that we will see a rush to litigation to overturn this discriminatory law, and urge our legislature to act immediately and put gay marriage before the governor once again.

Balancing Privacy and Security

I was deeply troubled by recent revelations of the scope of the National Security Agency’s domestic data collection. We failed as a nation to thoroughly debate and create public oversight before this highly questionable data collection began. It is time to bring this program to light and fix that error.

It is a basic principle of our founding that laws be open to public debate and inspection. We must update the rules that permitted this program to exist and ensure Congress, the courts, and the people have access and oversight. We need to vigorously guard our 4th Amendment privacy protections while still protecting Americans from terrorism. There are serious questions about whether this program successfully does that, and we cannot ask these questions after the fact again.

Protecting The Right to Vote 

As we’ve seen on several recent occasions, most notably in the Texas redistricting plan that federal courts last year described as intentionally discriminatory, the threat to voting rights in America remains very real. The Voting Rights Act has been instrumental in the fight against violations of one of our most precious constitutional rights, and Congress must now act decisively in the wake of the Supreme Court’s damaging decision and put in place updated, robust protections that once again give teeth to this vital law. 

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