WASHINGTON — Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, made the following opening statement at today’s markup of H. Res. 694.

Below are the remarks as prepared.

Ranking Member Collins: Mr. Chairman, I support this resolution to reaffirm Congress’ “commitment to the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, to the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (and the laws derived therefrom), and to the civil rights and liberties of all racial minorities across the country.”

In his “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.  When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.  This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The Civil Rights Amendments to the Constitution and resulting legislation contain universal human principles that – for too long – applied only to some Americans, and not others. For that very reason, Congress passed civil rights legislation to fulfill the necessary obligations contained in our Founding documents.

Our laws must reflect a universal application of justice for everyone, because justice and truth have no minority status.  Justice and truth are the very bedrock of the rule of law, and if they crack in one place, they threaten cracks throughout the entire foundation.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his letter from a Birmingham jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

I urge all my colleagues to join me in supporting Dr. King’s principles, the legislation he supported to fulfill those principles, and the resolution before us today.