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Civil Rights


Education and Labor

A quality public education is a powerful force for economic and social mobility. As Chair of the Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, I am working to expand opportunities for people of all backgrounds. We must close the equity gap for students of color, who continue to face disparate outcomes in our public education system.


The Trump administration has been undermining, rather than protecting, the civil rights of students and workers. I take seriously the obligation of Congress to advance equity, hold institutions accountable, and provide meaningful oversight of the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, and the Trump administration. I will fight for all students and workers so they can learn and work in safe, inclusive, and welcoming environments.

LGBTQ Equality

All Americans should be free from discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I have long advocated for LGBTQ rights. I’ve challenged Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reinstate protections for transgender students, and I’m leading the Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act, which would update the Older Americans Act to strengthen safeguards for LGBT elders.


I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Equality Act, H.R. 5, to amend our civil rights laws to clarify that prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sex includes prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Elections and Access to Voting

The right to vote is the core of our democracy, and it is critical that all Americans who qualify to vote have the opportunity to make their voices heard at the polls. For too long our nation did not allow minorities to vote; even after that right was afforded to all Americans, many jurisdictions engaged in shameful practices that effectively made it impossible for many citizens to exercise their rights.


In the 1960’s, the Voting Rights Act gave all citizens equal access to our election process, regardless of race. In the 1970’s, The Federal Election Campaign Act brought a new era of transparency and accountability in campaign finance, and thirty years later Congress passed the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act to rid the system of unchecked corporate soft-money. 


But the right of all citizens to fully participate in our democracy is under threat in ways we haven’t seen since the civil rights and post-Watergate eras. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision undermined that intent. There is no question that Citizens United has harmed our democracy, and it must be overturned. The Supreme Court further undermined voting rights by overturning key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, making it easier for states and localities to implement discriminatory practices that block access to the ballot box.


Voter suppression efforts and voter identification laws often restrict access for minority, military, disabled, and low-income voters, as well as seniors and college students. I am also deeply concerned about potential foreign interference in elections.


I am a strong supporter of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which addresses campaign finance reform, voting rights, election security, accountability for government officials, and more. It includes many of the voting provisions that Oregonians have already adopted and appreciate, helping states across the country follow Oregon’s lead by expanding automatic voter registration, online registration, having paper ballots, and vote-by-mail to make it easier for millions of people to exercise their right to vote.


Access to Justice  

Our democracy relies on an accessible and effective justice system to adjudicate rights and wrongs. When I was in law school, I helped low-income families access quality legal advice through Legal Aid. More than 60 million Americans qualify for legal assistance programs, and these attorneys assist the most vulnerable in our society, including military veterans seeking disability benefits, women seeking protection from their abusers, and families facing unlawful evictions. I have fought hard for full funding for Legal Aid, and I oppose efforts to eliminate funding for these vital programs.

More on Civil Rights

August 4, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC [08/04/2020] – Today Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) spoke before the Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Roundtable discussion titled “The Bill of Rights in the Balance: The Deployment of Federal Troops Against the American People.”  

August 4, 2020 Press Release
We will not allow this unlawful, ideological ploy by Betsy DeVos to push through a misguided rule that would take $11 million from our public school students and send it to private schools.
July 31, 2020 In The News

Federal and state officials started to discuss the drawdown within hours of a federal judge’s order temporarily barring federal officers from using force, threats and dispersal orders against journalists and legal observers documenting the protests and law enforcement response. U.S. District Judge Michael H.

July 30, 2020 In The News

The death of George Floyd spurred nationwide calls for police reform. Now several members of Congress are set to advance a plan to get unidentified federal law enforcement officers banned from participating in protests.

July 29, 2020 Press Release
The anonymous officers Trump sent to Portland have violated the rights of protestors and exacerbated tensions in our community.
July 29, 2020 In The News

Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, with U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, formally requested July 22 that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offices of Inspector General (OIG) to investigate the unrequested presence and violent actions of recently deployed federal forces in Portland.

July 28, 2020 In The News

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who was elected to the House from the 1st District in 2012:

"The passing of Congressman John Lewis is a tremendous loss, not only for the Congress but for the entire country. John Lewis lived a life of struggle, sacrifice, and service, and he inspired generations of Americans with his calm yet fierce dedication to civil rights. It was a true honor to serve with him and to get to know him as a legislator and a colleague. Without exception, he was kind and patient with everyone in every situation.

July 27, 2020 In The News

As first reported by OPB Sunday, the Trump administration plans to send dozens more deputy marshals to Portland to increase the number of federal forces stationed at the downtown federal court during nightly demonstrations.

July 25, 2020 In The News

Fifteen Congressional representatives on Friday demanded the immediate resignation of Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, saying he orchestrated “horrific scenes” forcefully breaking up peaceful protests in Portland.

July 25, 2020 In The News

Most Democrats in the state, including but not limited to: Portland’s mayor and city commissioners, the governor, State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Kurt Schrader and Peter DeFazio,