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Ben Nelson on Civil Rights

Democratic Sr Senator (NE)


Strongly favors requiring companies to hire more minorities

The federal government should continue affirmative action programs.

The federal government should utilize merit and qualifications in making government contracting decisions.

Source: vote-smart.org , Sep 26, 2000

Supports “Sexual orientation protected by civil rights laws”

Opposes requiring that crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, and disablity be prosecuted as federal hate crimes.
Source: vote-smart.org , Sep 26, 2000

Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration.

The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
  1. the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
  2. the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
  3. abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
  4. destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Reference: Flag Desecration Amendment; Bill S.J.Res.12 ; vote number 2006-189 on Jun 27, 2006

Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment; Bill S. J. Res. 1 ; vote number 2006-163 on Jun 7, 2006

Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.

Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
Reference: Bill S.625 ; vote number 2002-147 on Jun 11, 2002

Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.

Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
Reference: Bill S1510 ; vote number 2001-300 on Oct 11, 2001

Shift from group preferences to economic empowerment of all.

Nelson adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Strengthen America’s Common Civic Culture
The more ethnically and culturally diverse America becomes, the harder we must all work to affirm our common civic culture -- the values and democratic institutions we share and that define our national identity as Americans. This means we should resist an “identity politics” that confers rights and entitlements on groups and instead affirm our common rights and responsibilities as citizens. Multiethnic democracy requires fighting discrimination against marginalized groups; empowering the disadvantaged to join the economic, political, and cultural mainstream; and respecting diversity while insisting that what we have in common as Americans is more important than how we differ. One way to encourage an ethic of citizenship and mutual obligation is to promote voluntary national service. If expanded to become available to everyone who wants to participate, national service can help turn the strong impulse toward volunteerism among our young people into a major resource in addressing our social problems. It will also help revive a sense of patriotism and national unity at a time when military service is no longer the common experience of young Americans.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC6 on Aug 1, 2000

Rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record.

Nelson scores 60% by the ACLU on civil rights issues

We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.

Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002

Rated 11% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance.

Nelson scores 11% by the HRC on gay rights

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:

About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):

The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.

Source: HRC website 06n-HRC on Dec 31, 2006

Rated 57% by NAACP, indicating a mixed record on affirmative-action.

Nelson scores 57% by the NAACP on affirmative action

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:

About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels. From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.

Source: NAACP website 06n-NAACP on Dec 31, 2006

Other candidates on Civil Rights: Ben Nelson on other issues:
NE Gubernatorial:
Dave Heineman
Jon Bruning
Peter Ricketts
NE Senatorial:
Dave Domina
Deb Fischer
Shane Osborn

NE politicians
NE Archives

Retiring in 2014 election:
GA:Chambliss(R)
IA:Harkin(D)
MI:Levin(D)
MT:Baucus(D)
NE:Johanns(R)
SD:Johnson(D)
WV:Rockefeller(D)

Retired as of Jan. 2013:
AZ:Kyl(R)
CT:Lieberman(D)
HI:Akaka(D)
ME:Snowe(R)
ND:Conrad(D)
NE:Nelson(D)
NM:Bingaman(D)
TX:Hutchison(R)
VA:Webb(D)
WI:Kohl(D)
Senate Retirements 2014:
GA:Chambliss(R)
IA:Harkin(D)
MI:Levin(D)
MT:Baucus(D)
NE:Johanns(R)
OK:Coburn(R)
SD:Johnson(D)
WV:Rockefeller(D)

Senate races Nov. 2014:
AK: Begich(D) vs.Miller(R) vs.Treadwell(R) vs.Sullivan(R)
AL: Sessions(R,unopposed)
AR: Pryor(D) vs.Cotton(R)
CO: Udall(D) vs.Gardner(R) vs.Baumgardner(R) vs.Buck(R) vs.Hill(R) vs.Stephens(R)
DE: Coons(D) vs.O`Donnell(R)
GA: Nunn(D) vs.Perdue(R) vs.Kingston(R) vs.Gingrey(R) vs.Handel(R) vs.Broun(R)
HI: Schatz(D) vs.Hanabusa(D) vs.Cavasso(R)
IA: Braley(D) vs.Ernst(R) vs.Whitaker(R) vs.Clovis(R)
ID: Risch(R) vs.Mitchell(D)
IL: Durbin(D) vs.Oberweis(R) vs.Hansen(L) vs.Truax(R)
KS: Roberts(R) vs.Tiahrt(R) vs.Wolf(R) vs.Taylor(D) vs.Orman(I)
KY: McConnell(R) vs.Bevin(R) vs.Grimes(D)
LA: Landrieu(D) vs.Cassidy(R) vs.Maness(R)
MA: Markey(D) vs.Herr(R) vs.Skarin(I) vs.Gomez(R)
ME: Collins(R) vs.D`Amboise(R) vs.Bellows(D)
MI: Land(R) vs.Peters(D) vs.Wiedenhoeft(R)
MN: Franken(D) vs.McFadden(R) vs.Abeler(R) vs.Ortman(R)
MS: Cochran(R) vs.Childers(D) vs.McDaniel(R)
MT: Walsh(D) vs.Daines(R) vs.Edmunds(R) vs.Bohlinger(D)
NC: Hagan(D) vs.Tillis(R)
NE: Sasse(R) vs.Domina(D) vs.Haugh(L) vs.Osborn(R)
NH: Shaheen(D) vs.Brown(R) vs.Smith(R) vs.Rubens(R) vs.Testerman(R) vs.Martin(R)
NJ: Booker(D) vs.Bell(R) vs.Sabrin(R)
NM: Udall(D) vs.Weh(R) vs.Clements(R)
OK-2: Lankford(R) vs.Johnson(D) vs.Shannon(R)
OK-6: Inhofe(R) vs.Silverstein(D)
OR: Merkley(D) vs.Wehby(R) vs.Conger(R)
RI: Reed(D) vs.Zaccaria(R)
SC-2: Scott(R) vs.Dickerson(D) vs.Wade(D)
SC-6: Graham(R) vs.Hutto(D) vs.Ravenel(I) vs.Stamper(D) vs.Mace(R) vs.Bright(R)
SD: Rounds(R) vs.Weiland(D) vs.Pressler(I)
TN: Alexander(R) vs.Carr(R) vs.Adams(D)
TX: Cornyn(R) vs.Alameel(D) vs.Roland(L) vs.Stockman(R)
VA: Warner(D) vs.Gillespie(R) vs.Sarvis(L)
WV: Capito(R) vs.Tennant(D) vs.Raese(R) vs.McGeehan(R)
WY: Enzi(R) vs.Cheney(R) vs.Hardy(D)
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Page last updated: Aug 04, 2014