Cold Case Act Students join Sen. Doug Jones (D-Al.) to Urge President Trump to Appoint Board Members


Washington, D.C. — On Jan. 8, 2019, the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act was signed into law, establishing a review board to facilitate the release of civil rights cold case documents. The law seeks justice and answers for victims of unsolved racially-motivated crimes. However, the law’s otherwise successful implementation has been stalled by President Donald Trump’s failure to appoint members to the review board.

Since the legislation was signed into law, Congress has acted to appropriate $2 million to fund the review board, and the National Archives and Records Administration has begun to assemble a collection of documents for the board to examine. In addition, groups outlined in the bill, including the American Bar Association and the Organization of American Historians, have submitted recommendations for President Trump to appoint to the board for Senate confirmation.

In effect, the implementation process has gone smoothly but for one crucial component: the President has not appointed members to the board. According to the Cold Case Act, the President was allowed 120 days—with an extension—to appoint the board members. The deadline passed on May 8, 2019, well over a year ago.

This bipartisan law was approved near-unanimously by Congress and signed by the president, who is now obligated by law to appoint members to the review board.

Earlier this week, Senator Doug Jones (D-Al.) wrote to the President to petition for the appointment of board members, writing that “as our country is once again grappling with important questions related to civil rights, I urge you to appoint the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board as expeditiously as possible and fulfill the promise of this important legislation.”

The students of the Cold Case Act join Sen. Jones to urge President Trump to appoint all five members to the Cold Case Act Review Board. They have started an official White House petition which would compel the administration to respond within 60 days if it reaches 100,000 signatures.

In a statement, the Cold Case Act students said the following:

The hardest truth in this delay is that it brings us closer to a day when solving some of these cases becomes impossible. As Senator Jones said when he introduced the legislation, “memories fade or are lost to death. Evidence disappears. Potential defendants also die, taking the details of their crimes to their graves.” Every day counts when justice is in a race against oblivion. Tomorrow will necessarily be harder than today. Another year could turn a solvable case into a hopeless endeavor. We owe it to victims, family members, and loved ones not to allow that to happen.