Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

America’s history can be closely tied to the struggle for equal rights and opportunity for all. That is the common thread in the movements for civil rights, women’s rights, labor rights, LGBTQ rights, and the rights of individuals with disabilities. While these movements have yielded great progress, we still have a long way to go to build an ever more perfect union.


Whether it’s advancing racial equality, protecting voting rights, reforming our criminal justice system, or fighting for gender and LGBTQ equality, Senator Van Hollen’s leadership stems from a deeply-held belief that every American deserves equal rights and equal justice under the law. He has been at the forefront of the efforts to protect the right to vote. When he served in the Maryland General Assembly, he fought successfully to pass legislation prohibiting racial profiling at traffic stops, and he continues to advocate for an end to racial and religious profiling. He is a strong advocate of criminal justice reform, particularly treating drug addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal one.


From his earliest days in the Maryland legislature until today, Senator Van Hollen has fought to protect the right of women’s reproductive choice. He has also been a leader for LGBTQ rights, fighting in the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation preventing housing and employment discrimination and pushing for similar legislation on the federal level. He has worked closely with the disability community to promote civil rights and equal opportunity, passing the ABLE Act to help persons with disabilities and their families save for the future, advocating for fair wages and integrated workplaces, and fighting for increased resources for education for students with disabilities.


Senator Van Hollen believes that every American has a right to privacy and the civil liberties guaranteed under the Constitution. He has advocated for reform of the PATRIOT Act, particularly Section 215 and Section 702, to ensure the proper balance of liberty and security. In particular, he has proposed a strong citizen’s advocate in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court proceedings.