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Promises about Civil Rights on Obameter

Clarify legal status for defense contractor personnel

"Establish the legal status of contractor personnel, making possible prosecution of any abuses committed by private military contractors."

Revise the Patriot Act to increase oversight on government surveillance

"As president, Barack Obama would revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision."

Restrict warrantless wiretaps

"Barack Obama opposed the Bush Administration's initial policy on warrantless wiretaps because it crossed the line between protecting our national security and eroding the civil liberties of American citizens. As president, Obama would update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to provide greater oversight and accountability to the congressional intelligence committees to prevent future threats to the rule of law."

Restore habeas corpus rights for "enemy combatants"

"The right of habeas corpus allows prisoners to ask a court to determine whether they are being lawfully imprisoned. Recently, this right has been denied to those deemed enemy combatants. Barack Obama strongly supports bipartisan efforts to restore habeas rights. He firmly believes that those who pose a danger to this country should be swiftly tried and brought to justice, but those who do not should have sufficient due process to ensure that we are not wrongfully denying them their liberty."

Strengthen federal environmental justice programs

"Will work to strengthen the EPA Office of Environmental Justice and expand the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, which provides non-profit organizations across the nation with valuable resources to address local environmental problems; will work to ensure that environmental health issues in the wake of man-made or terrorist disasters are promptly addressed by federal state and local officials; will work to provide low-income communities the legal ability to challenge policies and processes that adversely affect the environmental health of low-income and minority communities."

Expand the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity

Will "place the weight of (his) administration behind...a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

Vigorously pursue hate crimes and civil rights abuses

Will ensure that the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division vigorously pursues cases involving hate crimes and civil rights abuses by local officials. "And he will also require the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights to provide him with a report for its plan to diversify the Division's workforce in his first 100 days, particularly in the Criminal Section."

Sign the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act into law

"Will sign the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act into law and charge the Voting Rights Section with vigorously enforcing that law and the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The act will will enable investigations into deceptive and fraudulent practices. It establishes significant, harsh penalties for those who have engaged in fraud, and it provides voters who have been misinformed with accurate and full information so they can vote."

Restore funding to EEOC and Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs

"Will restore funding to these vital agencies (the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs), reduce their charge backlog and strengthen laws already on the books that help workers fight pay discrimination."

Eliminate caps on damages for discrimination cases

Will sign into law the Equal Remedies Act of 2007 "to do away with the caps on compensatory and punitive damages under Title VII that presently impede the ability of victims of racial and gender discrimination to fully recover for the wrongs they have suffered."

Eliminate disparity in sentencing for crack and cocaine

"Will work in a bipartisan way to eliminate disparities" between mandatory sentences for trafficking crack cocaine versus powder cocaine, which he believes has disproportionately filled our prison with young black and Latino drug users. "They will also repeal the mandatory minimum sentence for first-time offenders convicted of simple possession of crack, as crack is the only drug that a non-violent first-time offender can receive a mandatory minimum sentence for possessing."

Reform mandatory minimum sentences

"Will immediately review (mandatory minimum) sentences to see where we can be smarter on crime and reduce the ineffective warehousing of nonviolent drug offenders."

Enhance drug courts

"Currently, the Department of Justice makes grants available to state and local governments to establish drug courts. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will replicate these efforts within the federal criminal justice system by signing a law that would authorize federal magistrates to preside over drug courts and federal probation officers to oversee the offenders' compliance with drug treatment programs. They will ensure that our federal courts and probation offices have adequate resources to deal with this new program."

Ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies

"Will sign legislation that will ban the practice of racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal funding to state and local police departments if they adopt policies to prohibit the practice."

Encourage videotaping of interrogations in capital cases

Will encourage states to adopt a law similar to one he shepherded through the Illinois legislature, "requiring videotaping of interrogations and confessions in capital cases to ensure that prosecutions are fair."

Create a prison-to-work incentive program

"Will create a prison-to-work incentive program, modeled on the Welfare-to-Work Partnership, to create ties with employers, third-party agencies that provide training and support services to exoffenders, and to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates."

Safeguard the right to privacy

"Will strengthen privacy protections for the digital age and will harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy."

Strengthen the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

"Obama will fight job discrimination for aging employees by strengthening the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and empowering the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to prevent all forms of discrimination."

Give the White House's Privacy and Civil Liberties Board subpoena power

"Strengthen the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board with subpoena powers and reporting responsibilities."