Portman Highlights Importance of Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board at Nomination Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, delivered opening remarks at a hearing to consider nominees to serve on the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board. Portman highlighted the importance of this review board in providing information about these unsolved cases and the need to balance public disclosure and privacy interests as these civil rights cold case records are reviewed. 

A transcript of his opening statement can be found below and a video can be found here

“I appreciate Senator Jones’s introduction of our nominees today, and I appreciate what he and Senator Cruz and others did to get this legislation moving, and then President Trump for signing it back in 2019. That was a while ago, and it’s about time that we move forward, not just with the nominations, but, of course, with the important work that has to be done. And my sense is because a few years have elapsed, there may be an effort to extend, which I think makes sense. 

“I have had the opportunity, Mr. Chairman, to interview all four of these nominees. We talked a lot about their experience. We talked about their objectivity. There was discussion earlier about the commitment to the truth. That’s what these individuals have told me that they are committed to. This is a very difficult period of our nation’s history that they will be unveiling and disclosing. And it’s very important that it be done. But these are stories of real people and real families who are still looking for answers. And one hopes that by providing this information, some of those answers will be found. And, in fact, there will be some sense of relief. 

“Joining us today are a journalist, scholars, and a lawyer and judge. This work, I think, is going to be populated by people who have the right experience. We talked a lot in our conversation about the need to balance public disclosure and privacy interests as these records are reviewed. That’s no easy task. We also talked about the awesome power of a subpoena and how we have to ensure that the subpoenas are not abused and also that the Attorney General has the ability to be requested by this Board to petition courts for the release of sealed records, another power that needs to be exercised carefully. 

“So I thank the nominees for their willingness to serve on the Board. I look forward to further discussion of these issues and again, how they plan to use their experience and their wisdom to achieve the important mission of this Board. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”