David McNew/Getty Images

"Stand your ground" laws, racially skewed school discipline practices and the biased criminal-justice system all make the need for a revived, strengthened U.S. Commission on Civil Rights apparent, Jesse Jackson writes at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Fundamental questions need to be answered about “stand and defend laws” — more accurately, “free pass for murder laws” — about racially skewed school-discipline practices (Trayvon had been suspended and was visiting his father when he was shot); about a criminal justice system still rife with bias, and about the dangers of “walking while black” in America. The man who shot Trayvon needs to be tried in court. But these broader issues require independent, forceful investigation.

So where is the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights? Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican president, created the bipartisan commission in 1957 to investigate the facts and issue credible reports on progress or challenges in our civil rights laws and practices. It was, as early director Theodore Hesburgh stated, to be the “conscience of the nation” on our progress in civil rights 


Today, the need for a revived commission is apparent. The commission should be investigating school-discipline policies and our biased criminal justice system. We need a clear look at the apparently coordinated effort of Republican governors to erect barriers to registration and voting that have a disproportionate effect on the young, the poor, the elderly and minorities. The apparently racially skewed efforts to direct African-American and Latino homebuyers into exotic, subprime mortgages needs to be probed as well.

Read Jesse Jackson's entire piece at the Chicago Sun-Times.