Strengthening Our Justice System and Democracy
As former Attorney General and United States Attorney for Rhode Island, I am committed to supporting law enforcement officers, reforming our criminal justice system, and ensuring that all Americans have fair access to our courts. Serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have worked on commonsense measures to address the opioid scourge, strengthen gun safety laws, update sentencing in the federal prison system, and protect the sacred right to vote. I have also led the fight to fix our broken campaign finance system to prevent powerful interests from anonymously influencing our elections, and have worked to highlight the threat posed to our national security by foreign kleptocrats – leaders who use their power for personal profit – and their U.S.-based enablers.
Improving Criminal and Juvenile Justice:
Rhode Island has demonstrated that reducing prison populations can go hand-in-hand with keeping ex-offenders out of trouble after their release. I have drawn on that example to enact changes to the federal juvenile and adult correctional systems, which have improved programs for rehabilitating inmates and preparing them to re-enter society as productive citizens. Making sure that those who have served their time have the skills to succeed when released protects public safety and saves taxpayer dollars in the long run.
- After years of bipartisan work, my bipartisan First Step Act was signed into law, allowing qualifying inmates to earn reductions in their sentences by completing programs proven to reduce their risk of ending up back in the prison system.
- I also worked across the aisle to write the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act. The law improves treatment for juvenile offenders with mental illness and substance abuse issues; encourages states to make efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities for youth who enter the juvenile justice system; supports alternatives to incarceration; and holds states accountable for failing to meet requirements to protect the safety of minors in the justice system.
Protecting Civil Rights and Access to Justice:
All Americans deserve to be treated fairly, regardless of who they are or where they come from. I am committed to ensuring that the court system lives up to the promise of liberty and justice for all.
- In the Shelby County v. Holder decision, the Supreme Court wrongly struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, which Congress passed in 1965 to prohibit racially discriminatory voting practices. I support efforts to restore and strengthen voter protections so that no one is denied the right to vote.
- I cosponsored the Voter Empowerment Act to ensure equal access to the ballot for every eligible voter, modernize voter registration, and help eliminate deceptive practices that deter people from voting.
- I’m proud that Rhode Island was among the first states to legalize same-sex marriage, and I applauded the Supreme Court's ruling two years later that made marriage equality the law of the land in all fifty states.
- The Senate has a duty to give fair and prompt consideration to the president's judicial nominees. The Senate recently approved Rhode Island's district court nominee Mary McElroy, who was originally nominated by President Obama on the recommendation of Senator Reed and myself.
Reforming Campaign Finance:
In 2010, the disastrous Citizens United decision ushered in an era of unlimited corporate spending in elections. Under today's rules, billionaires can spend enormous sums to sway elections without the public knowing who they are and why they’re seeking to influence the government. We need vastly stronger campaign finance laws to ensure that dark-money interests do not drown out the voices of American voters.
- I have led the fight for the DISCLOSE Act. This legislation would stop the flood of undisclosed "dark money" polluting our elections by strengthening campaign contribution disclosure requirements, allowing the public to see who the loudest voices in our elections are and better understand their true interests.
- I fully endorse a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United decision.
- I was an original cosponsor of the For the People Act, a package of legislation that to protect Americans at the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public officials.
Fighting Corporate Capture of the Judiciary:
- Americans deserve transparency from the most influential people in their government, and that includes judges who currently are not subject to key ethics rules. I have introduced the Judicial Travel Accountability Act, a bill to close loopholes that allow Supreme Court justices and federal judges to avoid disclosing travel and hospitality perks they enjoy as prominent public figures.
- I introduced the AMICUS Act to bring transparency to judicial lobbying. It defies reason that the branch of the federal government with the least direct accountability to the public is not subject to even the most basic lobbying disclosures. The current system is a recipe for corruption of the judiciary.
Defending the Rule of Law:
- Shell companies make it far too easy for criminals and foreign officials to hide assets from tax authorities and law enforcement. My bipartisan TITLE Act would help law enforcement root out criminals and bring them to justice.
- Protecting law enforcement from political interference is a core value of our justice system. My Security from Political Interference in Justice Act would increase transparency in dialogue between the U.S. Department of Justice and the White House, and prevent political interference in law enforcement decisions.