Person

Jonathan M. Smith

Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Attorney

Jonathan Smith is the executive director of the Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (WLC), a left-of-center public interest law firm that advocates for expanded welfare programs, pro-labor-union policies, and expanded legal protections for illegal immigrants. [1]

Early Life

Jonathan Smith received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Maine in 1980 and a J.D. from the Antioch School of Law in 2004. [2] Prior to joining the Washington Lawyer’s Committee, Smith was the section chief for the Special Litigation Section of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division during  both the first and second terms of the Obama administration. During his time at DOJ, Smith’s Special Litigation division led investigations to prosecute law enforcement officials for potential civil rights violations. [3] The DOJ under Smith’s direction commenced investigations probing the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department following the 2014 death of Michael Brown. [4]

Prior to working for the Department of Justice, Smith was an attorney for Public Justice and the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project. [5]

Criticism of Trump Administration

On September 24, 2020, Smith testified before the House Judiciary Committee, claiming that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under the Trump administration “abdicated its responsibilities” and failed to respond to alleged challenges posed by our nations “history of racial injustice.” [6] Smith stated that the Trump administration failed to join the nation in protesting the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and has been “absent”  because it failed to pursue investigations and prosecute police departments across the country from civil rights violations. [7] Smith contrasted the Trump administration’s policy with praise for the Obama administration’s DOJ, which attempted to hold the entire Ferguson, Missouri police department liable for the events that led to the death of Michael Brown. [8]

References

  1. “What we do.” Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Accessed May 1, 2022. https://www.washlaw.org/what-we-do/ ^
  2. “Jonathan Smith.” Linkedin. Accessed May 1, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-smith-07b17a26 ^
  3. “Jonathan M. Smith” Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. https://www.washlaw.org/about-us/staff-leadership/jonathan-smith/ ^
  4. “Jonathan Smith-Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs.” Igniting Change With Barbara Arnwine. Accessed May 1, 2022. https://www.barbaraarnwine.com/todays-show/jonathan-smith ^
  5. “22nd Annual Servant of Justice Awards Dinner – Jonathan M. Smith.” Legal Aid D.C. October 2013. Accessed May 1, 2022. https://www.legalaiddc.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/2011-SOJ-Program.pdf ^
  6. “Testimony of Jonathan M. Smith.” House Judiciary Committee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. September 24, 2020. Accessed May 1, 2022. https://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU10/20200924/111031/HHRG-116-JU10-Wstate-SmithJ-20200924.pdf ^
  7. “Testimony of Jonathan M. Smith.” House Judiciary Committee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. September 24, 2020. Accessed May 1, 2022. https://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU10/20200924/111031/HHRG-116-JU10-Wstate-SmithJ-20200924.pdf ^
  8. “Testimony of Jonathan M. Smith.” House Judiciary Committee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. September 24, 2020. Accessed May 1, 2022. https://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU10/20200924/111031/HHRG-116-JU10-Wstate-SmithJ-20200924.pdf ^
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