Third, the president must support legislation to reform and transform the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights into a nonpartisan, independent U.S. Commission on Civil and Human Rights. What was once an esteemed commission responsible for major civil rights-era reform is now little more than a hollow body that has lost its credibility as the conscience of the country. Expanding the commissions mandate will enhance its ability to address contemporary civil and human rights matters and restore the issues to the prominence that they deserve.Finally, Obama and Congress must institute reforms at the national level to create a better system of accountability around the U.S.s domestic and international human rights obligations, central to which is coordinating and supporting state and local efforts. As a Nobel laureate, Obama has been recognized for a body of international work that has yet to be completed. These four recommendations can serve as a backbone for the new era of engagement and responsibility that makes human rights a matter of both foreign and domestic policy. It can help to change the terrain of domestic human rights from what is to what ought to be. Lisa A. Crooms is the chairwoman of the Campaign for a New Domestic Human Rights Agendas steering committee and a professor at Howard University School of Law.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.