I have the great honor of serving on the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over a wide range of issues including crime, civil rights and civil liberties, immigration, bankruptcy, antitrust, intellectual property, and all constitutional amendments.
I was recently appointed to serve as Ranking Member of the Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee, which handles constitutional amendments, Federal civil rights, ethics in government, medical malpractice and product liability and other issues.
For more information about my work on the Judiciary Committee, please click on the links below:
Key legislation I authored to stop "libel tourism" -- a practice by which plaintiffs seek judgments from foreign courts against American authors and publishers for making allegedly defamatory statements -- was considered in the Judiciary Committee before it was signed into law by President Obama. This phenomenon threatens to undermine our nation's core free speech principles, as embodied in the First Amendment. My law will prohibit U.S. courts from recognizing or enforcing foreign defamation judgments that do not comport with the First Amendment.
Below are some of the bills I have introduced relating to issues before the Judiciary Committee:
- The "Justice Integrity Act" (H.R. 1771 ) would create a pilot program to examine racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system and develop solutions to this injustice. Over the past 30 years while working directly with the people of Memphis and the 9th District, I have spoken to many people in the African-American community regarding their deep misgivings about the fairness of the criminal justice system. I believe the Justice Integrity Act can begin the process of mending fences between law enforcement and minorities and increasing public confidence in the justice system.
- H.R. 2878 would create a new visa category for temporary admissions to the United States solely for the purpose of receiving medical treatment for a serious or life-threatening condition. The new visa category would allow two immediate family members of the patient to accompany him or her. It would also provide a work authorization for any parent who accompanies his or her child under the new visa category if the child's medical treatment will last six months or longer. This legislation is a humane response to a global need for access to the top-quality medical care that American hospitals provide.
- The "Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2010" (H.R. 2028) would amend the federal bankruptcy code to treat privately issued student loans equally with other types of private debt. This would allow them to be discharged in bankruptcy. There is no reason that private student loan lenders should receive special protection under the bankruptcy system. The bankruptcy system should act as a safety net that allows people to pursue an education with the assurance that, should their finances come under strain by layoffs, accidents, or other unforeseen life events, they will be protected.
- The "Byrne/JAG Program Accountability Act" (H.R. 1913 ) would require states and localities that receive federal law enforcement funding to implement policies and practices to identify and reduce racial and ethnic disparities within their criminal justice systems. Racial and ethnic disparities have engendered a crisis of public trust in the integrity of the criminal justice system and fueled perceptions of community bias. This bill would be a critical step toward identifying and eliminating these disparities.
- The "Fresh Start Act" (H.R. 2449 ) would enable non-violent federal offenders who have served their time and lived a clean life ever since to have their convictions expunged from their records. To be eligible for expungement, an offender may not have committed any other state or federal offense, whether violent or non-violent, and must have served their full sentence. This bill would allow people who made a mistake earlier in life, and have paid their debt to society, to wipe the slate clean and lead productive lives.