As Donald Trump works to fill his cabinet, his choices have inspired considerable anxiety among his critics. Advocacy organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch have reacted with concern and outright objections, in particular to the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general and Rep. Michael Pompeo to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
They claim these appointments show that “Trump’s administration will threaten human rights protections.”
In 1980, Ronald Reagan’s election similarly raised widespread anxiety among human rights advocates. His nomination of Ernest W. Lefever to head the State Department’s Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs heightened their fears. Lefever had been a vocal critic of Jimmy Carter’s emphasis on human rights in U.S. foreign policy.
Lefever’s nomination elicited a groundswell of opposition among members of Congress, human rights activists and the public that helped defeat his nomination.
My research shows how this coalition succeeded. Its efforts could serve as a model for concerned activists today…..