The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) is a civil-rights-focused left-of-center organization based in Washington, D.C. It serves as an umbrella organization for over 200 mostly left-wing organizations which lobby and advocate before Congress and other federal agencies on legislation and Presidential appointments to the executive departments and judiciary.
Its leadership consists of a committee of members of affiliated organizations that make up its board, which are made up of some of the biggest names on the professional left and the Democratic Party. Former LCCHR executive vice president and chief operating officer Seema Nanda serves as CEO of the Democratic National Committee, as of 2018.
The organization has recently taken a major role in opposing the appointments and policies of President Donald Trump. It spearheads letter campaigns on behalf of left-wing special interest groups and holds rallies to oppose Trump’s agenda.
The Leadership Conference Education Fund is an affiliated 501(c)(3) public charity which supports the LCCHR’s advocacy efforts.
The LCCHR was founded in 1950 as the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. The organization was founded by labor union leader A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Roy Wilkins of the NAACP; and Arnold Aronson, a leader of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council. The group began lobbying Congress in 1957. 
During the civil rights era of the 1960s, the organization was instrumental in urging the U.S. Congress to pass civil rights legislation. The Leadership Conference lobbied for the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1960, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. All of these pieces of legislation passed and were signed into law. It also played a role in organizing the famous 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.
In 2010, the organization changed its name to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. In 2017, Wade Henderson, its longtime president and CEO, stepped down from the organization. He was succeeded by civil rights attorney Vanita Gupta.
The LCCHR is an umbrella organization of over 200 separate, broadly left-wing organizations that work together to push for so-called civil rights legislation. It serves as an advocacy organization that reaches out to targeted constituencies, usually members of Congress and the national media.
Among the national member organizations are Americans for Democratic Action, the American Islamic Congress, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Amnesty International, the Anti-Defamation League, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, Center for Constitutional Rights, Children’s Defense Fund, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, FairVote, Families USA, Hip Hop Caucus, Human Rights Watch, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Lambda Legal, League of United Latin American Citizens, Muslim Public Affairs Council, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, National Council of Jewish Women, National Lawyers Guild, Open Society Policy Center, PFLAG, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Sierra Club, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Southern Poverty Law Center, Teach For America, United Farm Workers of America, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, and United Steelworkers of America.
In addition to its national members, LCCHR has local partner organizations in most states. Together the LCCHR’s department of field operations works between its member local and national organizations to ensure they are working together to advance its message.
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Also see United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Nonprofit)
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was a member of the LCCHR, but it withdrew from the organization in 2010. The event that led to the USCCB’s withdrawal was the support for the nomination of then U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court by then-President Barack Obama. Traditionally, the USCCB remains neutral on court appointments.
“The interests of the leadership conference and those of the USCCB have diverged as (the civil rights conference) has moved beyond advocacy of traditional civil rights to advocacy of positions which do not reflect the principles and policies of the bishops’ conference,” Bishop William F. Murphy said in a press release.
Policy and Lobbying Activity
In 2017, LCCHR president Vanita Gupta wrote an op-ed attacking the U.S. Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity, a Trump administration initiative aimed at countering potential vote fraud. Gupta alleged that “Purging voters is part of a larger malicious pattern that states have employed across the country,” she writes. “Georgia and Ohio are being sued for carrying out early versions of what we can expect from the Trump administration.” 
In January 2018, the LCCHR led a left-wing lobbying effort to oppose a U.S. Census Bureau proposal that would have reinstated a Census question requiring respondents to answer whether or not they are U.S. citizens. It wrote a public letter signed by most of its member organizations that claimed it would deter immigrants from answering the question honestly.
The primary action of the LCCHR is the drafting and writing of policy letters to lawmakers and executive branch officials. The policy letters state the organization’s positions and are signed by as many organizations as possible. In reality, most of the organizations who sign the letter are already members of LCCHR.
The group also produces the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Voting Record after each session of Congress. The scorecard features votes on traditional civil rights priorities such as fair housing. But it also contains items such as support for the taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, opposition to regulatory reform, opposition to efforts to fight illegal immigration, and reduction in funding in social programs.
In 2018, the LCCHR was also helping Facebook review its policies on civil rights and hate speech. In 2017, the group called for such an audit and called on the platform to “reduce the civil rights harm its platform enables.”
In March 2020, the LCCHR wrote a letter signed by more than 150 groups demanding congress include $2 billion in election funding in COVID-19 relief packages. The CARES Act ultimately contained $400 million for state elections. 
Supreme Court Confirmations
LCCHR has helped lead the fight against President Trump’s judicial nominees.
On July 9, 2018, LCCHR participated in a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to protest the nomination of U.S. appellate judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Critics of the rally saw it as an “astroturfed” event that would have been held no matter whom Donald Trump nominated to the bench. Observers spotted unused signs reading “Stop Barrett,” “Stop Kethledge,” and “Stop Hardiman,” created in the event President Trump had nominated judges Amy Coney Barrett, Raymond Kethledge, or Thomas Hardiman from his shortlist of Supreme Court nominees.”
Federal Judicial Confirmations
LCCHR released a letter on February 1, 2019 detailing its opposition to the confirmation of Neomi Rao, President Trump’s nominee for a seat on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The letter accuses Rao of holding bias against sexual assault victims, opposing women’s rights, being racist, and being hostile to LGBTQ groups. The letter also condemns Rao for being a member of the right-leaning Federalist Society, claiming that her being a member proves that she would “bring a clear bias and far-right ideological agenda to the bench.” 
The LCCHR also opposed the appointment of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Leonard Steven Grasz to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. 
In 2017, it helped lead the opposition to the appointment to the U.S. 7th Court of Appeals of Amy Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic law professor whose questioning about her religious beliefs from Democrats brought allegations of anti-Catholic bigotry. Despite the questioning, Barrett was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. 
Other Trump Administration Appointments
In April 2017, LCCHR led opposition to the appointment of Candace Jackson, the acting head of the U.S. Education Department’s Office For Civil Rights. It attacked Jackson for her opposition to affirmative action. Jackson also claimed that affirmative action and other race and gender-based quotas discriminate against white students. The LCCHR spearheaded a letter campaign to Education Secretary Betsy Devos to demand the removal of Jackson and the strict enforcement of civil rights laws. 
The president and CEO of the LCCHR is Vanita Gupta. Gupta is a former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama. Before then, she was employed by the ACLU and the NAACP as a civil rights attorney.  During an interview with the Huffington Post after her hire in June 2017, Gupta described the LCCHR as the “nerve center” and the “heart of” the resistance to President Donald Trump. Her hire was praised by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and Gara LaMarche, president of the left-wing donor convening Democracy Alliance. 
Kristine Lucius is the executive vice president for policy. Before she joined the LCCHR, she was a U.S. Senate staffer. 
Ashley Allison is the executive vice president for campaigns and programs. Before she joined the LCCHR, she worked for Valerie Jarrett in the White House Office of Public Engagement as a deputy director and senior policy adviser. Before working in the Obama White House, she served as in charge of African-American voter outreach for the Obama reelection campaign in 2012 in Ohio.
Seema Nanda, former chief operating officer and executive vice president of the LCCHR, now works as CEO of the Democratic National Committee. She took the DNC position in 2017 after the party’s defeats in the 2016 elections.
Board of Directors
The LCCHR is governed by an executive board which is made up of representatives of some of its member organizations. The chair as of 2018 is Judith L. Lichtman of the National Partnership for Women and Families. The vice chairs are Jacqueline Pata of the National Congress of American Indians and Thomas A. Saenz of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Other board officers include Secretary Jo Ann Jenkins of the AARP and Treasurer Lee A. Saunders of AFSCME. The policy and enforcement committee chair is Michael Lieberman of the Anti-Defamation League. 
Other directors include Kimberly Churches of the AAUW, Richard L. Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Helena Berger of the American Association of People with Disabilities, Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, Samer E. Khalaf of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, John C. Yang of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, Dennis Williams of the United Auto Workers, David Inoue of the Japanese American Citizens League, Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Wylecia Wiggs Harris of the League of Women Voters, Derrick Johnson of the NAACP, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Lily Eskelsen Garcia of the National Education Association, Shanna Smith of the National Fair Housing Alliance, Toni Van Pelt of the National Organization for Women, Debra L. Ness of the National Partnership for Women and Families, Marc Morial of the National Urban League, Fatima Goss Graves of National Women’s Law Center, Michael B. Keegan for People For The American Way, Rabbi Jonah Pesner of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Mary Kay Henry of the Service Employees International Union, and Janet Murguia of UnidosUS.
LCCHR has been heavily funded by left-wing foundations. Since 2000, LCCHR “has received over $30.4 million from the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the Gates Foundation, and others.” 
According to its 2015 tax return, LCCHR raised $2.9 million. It spent $2.1 million and its total assets after liabilities was $1.4 million. It spent $719,452 on salaries. Its largest itemized contracting expense was $110,078 with Pinpoint Government Communication Solutions, a Lanham, Maryland-based political consulting firm that targets non-white voters. In total, it spent $423,213 on consulting.  Its single largest fundraising event is the annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights dinner. It raised $908,770 from that event.
LCCHR spent a little over $1 million on its campaign coordinating the efforts of its over 200 member organizations, $529,621 to promote the Every Student Succeeds Act education reform package, and $242,805 advocating on behalf of criminal justice reform.
According to OpenSecrets.org, through September 2018, the LCCHR spent $814,044 on lobbying the U.S. Congress. In 2017, it spent $1.45 million on lobbying.