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.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.