HONORING THE LEGACY OF LAURA W. MURPHY; Congressional Record Vol. 161, No. 16
(Extensions of Remarks - January 30, 2015)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E135]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                         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.