The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Priorities & Victories
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is the nation's premier civil and human rights coalition. The Leadership Conference was founded in 1950 to coordinate national legislative strategies for the civil and human rights community and, thus, played a key role in the passage of every major civil rights law since 1957.
The Leadership Conference now consists of more than 200 national organizations that work together to meet a common goal of a more open and just society - an America as good as its ideals.
As a 501(c)(4) organization that engages in legislative advocacy, The Leadership Conference receives most of its operating support from its member organizations, the annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award Dinner and foundation, corporate and individual contributions.
- Ensuring equal opportunity
- Protecting civil rights, civil liberties, worker protections, and equal opportunity
- Promoting civic engagement
- Building stronger communities and families
- Reforming the nation's criminal justice system
- Guarding the crossroads of civil rights and civil liberties
2011 – The Leadership Conference played a key role in the confirmation of Edward Chen to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
2011 – The Leadership Conference played a key role in encouraging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to champion an effort to have the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and powder forms of cocaine and eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for simple possession, applied retroactively. The U.S. Sentencing Commission adopted retroactivity in July of 2011 and the new policy will affect the sentences of some 12,000 people incarcerated for crack offenses.
2010 - The Leadership Conference joined with a broad coalition of organizations called Americans for Financial Reform to ensure that the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, included strong protections for consumers and effective regulation to hold Wall Street accountable. The centerpiece of this legislation is the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with broad regulatory powers to protect consumers from predatory lending practices. The bureau will include a civil rights office focused exclusively on fighting discriminatory lending.
2009 – The Leadership Conference led the campaign to confirm Sonia Sotomayor as the nation's first Hispanic American – and only third woman – Supreme Court justice.
2009 – The Leadership Conference also played a key role in the confirmation of Eric Holder, the nation's first African-American U.S. attorney general; Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice; Harold Koh, legal advisor to the U.S. Department of State; and Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor at the State Department.
2009 – The Leadership Conference led the campaign to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was enacted into law in October 2009. It removes unnecessary obstacles to federal prosecution of hate crimes, provides local law enforcement with vital resources, and expands the definition of federal hate crimes to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. It is the first federal civil rights enforcement statute to explicitly protect LGBT Americans.
2009 – The Leadership Conference led the campaign to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which restored the ability for workers to challenge pay discrimination in court.
2009 – The Leadership Conference pushed for and won the passage of an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, expanding its coverage to include 11 million low-income children and immigrant children.
2008 – The Leadership Conference coordinated the campaign to pass the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, which was enacted into law in September 2008. The law overturns recent Supreme Court decisions that reduced protections for certain people with disabilities – including people with diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, mental disabilities, and cancer – who were originally intended to be covered by the ADA. The ADA prohibits discrimination against Americans with physical and mental disabilities in such areas as employment, public accommodations, and transportation.
2008 – The Leadership Conference, working with local organizations to organize progressives in Colorado, played a critical role in defeating an anti-equal opportunity ballot initiative in the state. The initiative, which was on the state's November 2008 ballot, was voted down by a narrow majority of Colorado voters. It was the first such state ballot initiative voted down by voters.
2006 – The Leadership Conference led the campaign to reauthorize and restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965, reauthorized in August of 2006 as the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006. The 2006 reauthorization overturned a number of Supreme Court decisions that had eroded the VRA's effectiveness and renewed several key protections, providing for language assistance, Election Day monitors, and Justice Department pre-approval of voting changes. The protections are currently set to expire in 2031.