The poor, minorities – and even criminals – are still having their rights violated in America, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Vanita Gupta, told the audience at the New York University School of Law’s Convocation on Thursday.
Despite DOJ's "tireless efforts," there remains a "dramatic gap" that is denying particular groups of their legally-guaranteed rights, Gupta told the graduates:
"Despite the tireless efforts of so many to drive this progress – including efforts from my outstanding colleagues at the Justice Department – in too many communities across America today, we see a dramatic gap between what our laws guarantee, on the one hand, and what people experience, on the other."
Gupta accused America of segregation, “criminalizing poverty,” police brutality, and discrimination against the LGBT community, particularly transsexuals - and more:
"We see this gap in our elections – as too many voters face too many hurdles to engaging in the democratic process.
"We see this gap in a justice system that too often ends up criminalizing poverty and disability.
"We see this gap even half a century after Gideon v. Wainwright, as too many poor defendants don’t have meaningful access to counsel.
"We see this gap 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education as children continue to attend racially segregated schools and live in racially isolated neighborhoods.
"We see this gap as communities struggle to build trust with law enforcement and confront issues of use of force, racial justice, officer and public safety.
"And we see this gap in efforts to deny LGBTI individuals – especially transgender men and women – the respect they deserve and the protection our laws guarantee."
And, laws that limit bathrooms to persons of the same biological sex are but illegal and immoral, Gupta told the NYU graduates:
“And let me add this – efforts like House Bill 2 in North Carolina not only violate the laws that govern our nation, but also the values that define us as a people.”