Professor Tony Varona Testifies Before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about Federal Civil Rights Enforcement Efforts

November 6, 2018

Professor Tony Varona
Professor Tony Varona

On Friday, Nov. 2, American University Washington College of Law Professor Tony Varona testified at a public briefing of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), entitled “Are Rights A Reality? Evaluating Federal Civil Rights Enforcement.”

During the briefing, Varona focused his remarks on the state of LGBTQ protections and rights enforcement by the federal government.

"I applaud (USCCR) Chairwoman Lhamon and the rest of the Commission, including our AUWCL alumna Kathy Culliton-Gonzalez, the Commission's evaluation/research chief, for taking a much-needed and detailed look at the federal government's progress, or lack thereof, in protecting the civil rights of all Americans,” Varona said. “As I noted in my testimony, this is a critically important role of the federal government, and affects how we relate to one another as citizens and neighbors, and whether and how we as Americans are able to pursue life, liberty, and happiness on equal footing.”

"We are grateful for the testimony of Professor Varona and a broad spectrum of government officials and expert panelists, as we investigate and evaluate the performance of 13 federal civil rights agencies with regard to protections against discrimination based on race, national origin, gender, disability, and due process rights. The evaluation is conducted under the statutory authority of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan Commission established under the 1957 Civil Rights Act," said Culliton-González, director of the Commission's Office of Civil Rights Enforcement and valedictorian of the AUWCL class of 1993.

    Key federal agencies now are aggressively undermining the recognition and protection of the civil rights of millions of Americans that depend on them.

    Professor Tony Varona

    At the briefing, Varona told the Commission that “key federal agencies now are aggressively undermining the recognition and protection of the civil rights of millions of Americans that depend on them.”

    “Issues of decency and dignity and how we define our national identity transcend partisan politics,” Varona said during his testimony. “They are why this Commission’s role as the civil rights conscience of the nation is so important. I urge you to embrace and build upon that role, and to use your authority, vision, and voice to insist that we, as a nation, aspire to be our better selves as citizens, and as neighbors.”

    Varona specializes in the areas of administrative and public law, contracts, media law, and sexuality and gender law. He served as vice dean at AUWCL from 2016-2018, and as associate dean for faculty and academic affairs from 2010-2016. Varona is currently on the national board of directors for Stonewall National Museum and Archives (SNMA), and co-founded and formerly co-chaired the SNMA National Advisory Council. A co-editor of the AALS Journal of Legal Education, Varona previously served on the national boards of GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Alliance for Justice.

    Watch a video of Varona’s USCCR testimony here.

    American University Washington College of Law faculty experts are often invited to testify before Congress and administrative agencies, and in other ways are asked to share their expertise with government decisionmakers. See other recent examples: