Washington D.C., Sep 18, 2019 / 10:40 am
The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm a prominent Catholic law professor to a high-ranking State Department position.
By a margin of 49 to 44, Robert Destro, a law professor at Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, was confirmed by the Senate as the next Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined Democrats in opposition to Destro’s confirmation.
“Robert Destro is one of the nation's experts on human rights, both in terms of international law and the moral basis for human rights,” Thomas Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute, told CNA in a statement, noting Destro’s experience both as a human rights scholar and activist “in the best sense of that term.”
Destro’s new role at the State Department is tasked with promoting democracy, civic and religious freedom around the world.
It “is the senior human rights position in American diplomacy,” Farr said, charged with promoting human rights “not simply as the right thing to do (which it is), but also as a strategic interest of the United States.”
“Destro will excel in both tasks,” Farr said.
Destro is the founding director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Law & Religion at Catholic University; he previously served as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1983 to 1989, addressing issues of discrimination on the basis of disability, national origin, and religion.
He has also served on the State Department’s Working Group on Religion in Foreign Affairs, as well as the special counsel for voting rights for the Ohio Secretary of State from 2004 to 2006.