January 30, 2015 - Issue: Vol. 161, No. 16 — Daily Edition114th Congress (2015 - 2016) - 1st Session
HONORING THE LEGACY OF LAURA W. MURPHY; Congressional Record Vol. 161, No. 16
(Extensions of Remarks - January 30, 2015)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E135] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] HONORING THE LEGACY OF LAURA W. MURPHY ______ HON. JOHN CONYERS, JR. of michigan in the house of representatives Friday, January 30, 2015 Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor one of the most prominent and important civil liberties and civil rights advocates of our time--my friend, Laura W. Murphy. Laura is the longest serving director of the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union, and will be stepping down at the end of the month. It is my pleasure to honor her public service and to wish her well in her next chapter. Most recently, Laura was instrumental in advising Attorney General Eric Holder and the United States Sentencing Commission on ways to reduce overcrowding among federal prison populations. She worked closely with Attorney General Holder and leaders of the House and Senate in passing the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, a law that reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, which ignited a movement to finally begin to end racial disparities in our criminal justice system. Among Laura's other profound legislative accomplishments was working closely with Congress and the White House to build support for essential and federally funded reproductive health services for servicemembers and their dependents in cases of rape and incest. This was among the few abortion rights victories of the last 40 years. Laura has been a leading voice in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country for freedom of speech, including her office's tireless efforts to preserve the First Amendment in the face of calls for a constitutional amendment that would lead to laws against so-called flag desecration, that would restrict internet free speech, and that would censor lyrics in rap and other music genres. She has been a tenacious advocate for checks and balances to prevent abuses by Intelligence agencies and finally rolling back the significant overreach of the USA Patriot Act. Her work on LGBT rights, mass incarceration and racial profiling, comprehensive immigration reform, privacy, reproductive rights, and voting rights has been peerless. Laura is a familiar face in Congress, and among the few people who can call both Representative Maxine Waters and Senator Mitch McConnell friends, an advocate who has shown the nation how to achieve bipartisan success in these hyper-partisan times. She has testified more than a dozen times before the House and Senate and is a frequent contributor to national dialogue on critical legislative issues. One of the ACLU's most prominent spokespersons, Laura is also an author, including book chapters on homeland security and the African American community's response to the 9/11 attacks. Repeatedly named among the most influential advocates in Washington, D.C. and frequently cited by the Washington Post, Laura has been an important voice for more than four decades, advising U.S. Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. We in Congress are losing not only a tireless advocate for civil liberties and civil rights, we are losing a dear friend, respected and admired by all who know her. I am hopeful that she will remain close at hand and active in the fight for basic American values. Those closest to her know that fighting for justice is in Laura's DNA--she is a direct descendent of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Philip Livingston. I urge you to join me in wishing Laura Murphy all the best, to congratulate her as she faces new adventures, and to thank her for her many years of service. ____________________