Strengthening Our Justice System and Democracy
As former Attorney General and United States Attorney for Rhode Island, I am committed to supporting our 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, improve gun safety laws, update sentencing in the federal prison system, and protect the sacred right of American citizens to vote. To ensure special interests don't stand in the way of progress on these and so many other critical issues, I have also helped lead the fight to give real teeth to our campaign finance laws, so that powerful interests cannot anonymously influence our elections.
In Rhode Island, we have seen that reducing prison populations can go hand-in-hand with keeping ex-offenders out of trouble after their release. In the Senate, I have drawn on these lessons to promote changes to our juvenile and adult correctional systems focused on improving rehabilitation and better preparing inmates for productive re-entry into society. Making sure that those who have served their time have the skills to succeed when released improves public safety and saves taxpayer dollars.
- My CORRECTIONS Act would ensure that federal inmates can participate in programs tailored to their needs and designed to reduce their risks of committing new crimes once released. The bill is now part of the Senate's landmark Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which the Senate Judiciary Committee approved on a bipartisan vote.
- I worked across the aisle to write the Juvenile Justice And Deliquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2016, which would update our juvenile justice system to reflect what science has taught us about adolescents development and what the evidence shows to work best to prevent delinquency among young people. This bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unopposed.
All Americans deserve to be treated fairly, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. I am fighting to ensure that all Rhode Islanders can live free from discrimination.
- In 2013, 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 the Voting Rights Restoration Act, which would restore and strengthen voter protections and help ensure that no one is denied the right to vote based on his or her race.
- Rhode Island was among the first states to legalize same-sex marriage, and I applauded the Supreme Court's ruling two years later that the Constitution assures marriage equality in all fifty states.
- We need comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders and provides a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding, undocumented workers. In 2013, I supported bipartisan immigration legislation that passed the Senate, but unfortunately failed to advance in the House of Representatives. I will continue to support sensible immigration reforms that bring families out of the shadows and boost our economy.
All Americans have the right to seek justice in our courts. I am committed to ensuring that we have a strong court system that lives up to our promise of "liberty and justice for all."
- Americans who have been harmed deserve their day in court, and large corporations should not be able to sweep wrongdoing under the rug. Corporations use binding arbitration to force people who have been wronged into closed-door proceedings skewed in the corporation's favor. This process prevents Americans from going to court and making their case to a jury of their peers. To help protect Rhode Islanders, I support the Arbitration Fairness Act and the Restoring Statutory Rights and Interests of the States Act, which would prohibit arbitration clauses in consumer and employment contracts.
- The Senate has a duty to give fair and prompt consideration to the president's judicial nominees. I have called for confirmation of Rhode Island's district court nominee, Mary McElroy, and hearings for Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. A functional judiciary is essential to our democracy, and the nomination process is too important to be bogged down in partisan politics.
Since the misguided Citizens United decision allowed corporations to spend unlimited money in our elections, the amount of special-interest money in politics has exploded. Under today's rules, billionaires can spend unlimited sums to sway elections without any of us knowing who they are. Throughout my time in the Senate, I have led the fight for stronger campaign finance laws to ensure that dark-money interests do not drown out the voices of American voters.
- Since 2012, I have led the fight for the DISCLOSE Act, which would stop the flood of undisclosed "dark money" polluting our elections. The bill would strengthen campaign contribution disclosures, requiring those with the loudest voices in our elections to at least identify themselves.
- Congress should pass commonsense campaign finance reform measures. I fully endorse a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United decision.
- Under the law, non-profits are prohibited from engaging in our elections, yet billionaires and large corporations often use them to conduct political activities and to launder campaign contributions. I have urged the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission to closely monitor these groups and hold them accountable when they illegally influence elections.