Tireless voice for equality and opportunity

Tomorrow, the Senate will consider the nomination of Debo Adegbile to be the next assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice – and as president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), I strongly believe that he is the correct choice to lead the essential work of the division.

The American Association of People with Disabilities is the nation’s largest disability rights organization and, since our founding in 1995, has worked tirelessly to create equal opportunity and economic independence for Americans with disabilities. We have worked closely with every administration, regardless of party affiliation, to ensure voting rights, employment opportunity, fair housing, access to health benefits, equity in transportation, and veteran’s rights for people with disabilities.

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The Civil Rights Division (CRD) enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, familial status and national origin – and disability. The agency is tasked with enforcing disability rights, particularly through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law, to protect the civil rights of the people with disabilities – and the CDR works to translate the ideals of this bill into reality. Under the ADA’s mandate, the CRD works to carry out the enforcement, certification, regulatory, coordination, and technical assistance activities, required by the ADA, combined with an innovative mediation program and a technical assistance grant program.

The Division’s activities affect millions of businesses and non-profit agencies, thousands of units of state and local government, and millions of people with disabilities. Expanding access to opportunity for people with disabilities cuts across almost every area of the Division's work. It is imperative to our community – more than 57 million Americans – that Adegbile is promptly confirmed.

The son of immigrants who worked his way from poverty to the top of the legal profession, Adegbile is a tireless voice for equality and opportunity for all Americans. 

As one of the nation’s top civil rights litigators, Adegbile twice defended the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act in oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. Paul Clement, Solicitor General under President George W. Bush said of Adegbile: “I have litigated both with and against Debo and have heard him argue in the Supreme Court. I have always found him to be a formidable advocate of the highest intellect, skills and integrity.”

Adegbile possesses a deep understanding of and broad experience with complex civil rights matters. His legal skill set, experience, and personal and professional integrity make him the perfect choice to head the Civil Rights Division.

Perriello is the president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation's largest disability rights organization.