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John Conyers, Jr. (born May 16, 1929) is a member of the United States House of Representatives representing Michigan's 14th congressional district, which includes most of northwestern Detroitmarker, as well as Highland Parkmarker, Hamtramckmarker and part of Dearbornmarker. A Democrat, he has served since 1965 (the district was numbered as the 1st District until 1993). In January 2007, Conyers became chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in the 110th United States Congress; he had been the committee's ranking Democrat since 1997.

Conyers is currently the second-longest serving incumbent member of the House (just after fellow Democrat from Michigan, John Dingell) and the fourth-longest incumbent member of the entire Congress by length of service (after Robert Byrd, John Dingell, and Daniel Inouye). He is married to Monica Conyers.

Early life and private career

After graduating from Northwestern High School in Detroitmarker, Conyers served in the Michigan National Guard 1948–50; US Army 1950–54; and the US Army Reserves 1954–57. Conyers served for a year in Korea as an officer in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and was awarded combat and merit citations.

Conyers grew up in Detroit, and received both his B.A. and his J.D. from Wayne State Universitymarker. He served as an assistant to Congressman John Dingell prior to his election to Congress.

Conyers was present in Selma, Alabamamarker on October 7, 1963, for the civil rights movement voter registration drive known as Freedom Day.

He appeared in Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 discussing the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks, stating that members of Congress "don't read most of the bills".

Conyers frequently posts at Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. Since May 2005, he's been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post and his own blog.

In the House of Representatives

Conyers has been reelected 22 times, never facing serious opposition. He is the second-longest serving current member of the House, as well as the second-longest serving member of either house of Congress in Michigan's history. Only Dingell outranks him on both lists. He is the last surviving member of the Democrats' large freshman class of 1965. By one measure, Conyers was found the sixth most liberal member of Congress after World War II.

While serving in the House, Conyers made two unsuccessful runs for mayor of Detroit: one in 1989 against incumbent Coleman Young and again in 1993.

Conyers is one of the 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and is considered the Dean of that group. Formed in 1969, the CBC was founded to strengthen African-American lawmakers' ability to address the legislative concerns of Black and minority citizens. He has served longer in Congress than any other African-American. In 1971, he was one of the original members of Nixon's Enemies List.

According to the National Journal, Conyers has been considered, with Pete Stark, John Lewis, Jim McDermott, and Barbara Lee, to be one of the most liberal members of Congress for many years. Civil rights icon Rosa Parks served on Conyers' staff between 1965 and 1988.

Conyers is known as one of the supporters of the drive to regulate online gambling. He has likened the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, hidden within the SAFE Port Act, to Prohibition.

After Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968, Conyers introduced the first bill in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday.

Nixon and Watergate

Conyers was critical of Richard Nixon during his tenure, and as a result was number 13 on President Richard Nixon's enemies list during Nixon's 1969–1974 presidential tenure. The president's Chief Counsel described him as "coming on fast" and that he was "emerging" as a "black anti-Nixon spokesman" who also had a "weakness for white women."

Conyers voted on the Articles of Impeachment against Nixon in July 1974. He is the last remaining member of the House Judiciary Committee who did so, although one other fellow Committee member is still in Congress (Charles Rangel, Democrat of New York).

United States National Health Care Act

The United States National Health Care Act (Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act) (HR 676), is a bill submitted to the United States House of Representatives by Conyers which, as of September 29, 2008, has 93 cosponsors. It was first introduced, with 25 cosponsors, in 2003, and reintroduced each session since then. The act calls for the creation of a universal single-payer health care system in the United States, in which the government would provide every resident health care free of charge. In order to eliminate disparate treatment between richer and poorer Americans, the Act would also prohibit private insurers from covering any treatment or procedure already covered by the Act. The bill is currently in the House Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health.

Downing Street memo

On May 5, 2005, Conyers and 88 other members of Congress wrote an open letter to the White House inquiring about the Downing Street memo, a leaked memorandum that revealed an apparent secret agreement between the United States and the United Kingdommarker to attack Iraq in 2002. The Times reported that newly-discovered documents reveal British and U.S. intentions to invade Iraq and leaders of the two countries had "discussed creating pretextual justifications for doing so". The documents go on to say that Tony Blair decided the U.S. would need to "create" conditions to justify the war.

The memo story broke in the United Kingdommarker, but did not receive much coverage in the United States, prompting Conyers to lament: "This should not be allowed to fall down the memory hole during wall-to-wall coverage of the Michael Jackson trial and a runaway bride."

Conyers and others reportedly considered sending a congressional investigation delegation to London.

What Went Wrong In Ohio

In May, 2005, Conyers released What Went Wrong In Ohio: The Conyers Report On The 2004 Presidential Election, which discusses the voting irregularities in the state of Ohiomarker during the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election. The evidence offered consists of statistical abnormalities in the differences between exit poll results and actual votes registered at those locations. The book also discusses reports of faulty electronic voting machines and the lack of credibility of those machines used to tally votes.

He was one of 31 members of the House who voted not to count the electoral votes from Ohiomarker in the United States presidential election, 2004.

The Constitution in Crisis

On August 4, 2006, Conyers released the final draft of his report, The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retributions and Cover-ups in the Iraq War, an edited collection of information intended to serve as evidence that the Bush Administration altered intelligence to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The Constitution in Crisis examines much of the evidence presented by the Bush Administration prior to the invasion and questions the credibility of their sources of intelligence. In addition, the document investigates the conditions that led to the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib prisonmarker in Iraq, as well as further evidence of torture having been committed but not made known to the public. Finally, the document reports on a series of "smear tactics" purportedly used by the administration in dealing with its political adversaries.

The document calls for the censure of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Notably, however, Conyers refuses to back impeachment proceedings.

On anti-Muslim intolerance

Conyers has proposed House Resolution 288, which condemns “religious intolerance” but emphasizes on Islam as needing special protection from acts of violence and intolerance. It states that “it should never be official policy of the United States Government to disparage the Quran, Islam, or any religion in any way, shape, or form,” and “calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith.” The bill was referred to the House subcommittee on the Constitution in June 2005, but Conyers, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, could revive it.

Conyers v. Bush

See also Conyers v. Bush

In April 2006 Conyers, together with ten other senior congressmen, filed an action in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, challenging the constitutionality of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. In simple terms the complaint alleged the bill was not afforded due consideration by the United States Congress before being signed by the President. The action was subsequently dismissed on grounds of lack of standing.

Ethics controversy

In letters sent separately to the House Ethics Committee, the FBImarker, and the US Attorney's office by two former aides of Conyers, they alleged that Conyers used his staff to work on several local and state campaigns and forced them to baby-sit and chauffeur his children. In late December 2006, Conyers "accepted responsibility" for possibly violating House rules. A statement issued December 29, 2006, by the House Ethics Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Ranking Minority Member Howard Berman (D-Calif.), said that Conyers acknowledged what he characterized as a "lack of clarity" in his communications with staff members regarding their official duties and responsibilities, and accepted responsibility for his actions. In deciding to drop the matter, Hastings and Berman state: After reviewing the information gathered during the inquiry, and in light of Representative Conyers’ cooperation with the inquiry, we have concluded that this matter should be resolved through the issuance of this public statement and the agreement by Representative Conyers to take a number of additional, significant steps to ensure that his office complies with all rules and standards regarding campaign and personal work by congressional staff..

Copyright Controversy

Conyers has come under fire from scientific and taxpayers' advocacy groups for repeatedly introducing a bill that would overturn NIHmarker Public Access Policy and forbid the government from mandating that federally funded research be made freely available to the public. Critics assert that Conyers has been influenced by publishing houses who have contributed significant money to Conyers.

House Report on Presidency of George W. Bush and proposed inquiry

On January 13, 2009, the House Committee on the Judiciary, led by Chairman Conyers, released "Reining in the Imperial Presidency: Lessons and Recommendations Relating to the Presidency of George W. Bush", a 486-page report detailing alleged abuses of power that occurred during the Bush administration, and a comprehensive set of recommendations to prevent recurrence. Conyers has introduced a bill to set up a "truth commission" panel to investigate alleged policy abuses of the Bush administration.

Bill reading controversy

In late July 2009, Conyers, commenting on the healthcare debate in the House, stated that “I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill'... What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?” His remark brought criticism from government transparency advocates such as the Sunlight Foundation, which referred to readthebill.org in response. In the House, 93 representatives signed a pledge, started by Mike Pence of Indianamarker, to read a health care bill before voting on it.

Conviction of Monica Conyers

Conyers is married to Monica Conyers, who is former President Pro-Tempore of the Detroit City Council and the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation into political corruption in the city. In 2009 Monica Conyers pled guilty to conspiring to commit bribery.

GOP Accusations on American Muslims as "spies" and Conyers Response

In October, Conyers responded to allegations from four Republican Congress Members, in the wake of the launch of the book Muslim Mafia, that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sought to plant Muslim "spies" in Capitol Hillmarker. He strongly opposed those accusations in these words:

"It shouldn't need to be said in 2009, and after the historic election of our first African-American president, but let me remind all my colleagues that patriotic Americans of all races, religions, and beliefs have the right - and the responsibility - to participate in our political process, including by volunteering to work in Congressional offices.
Numerous Muslim-American interns have served the House ably and they deserve our appreciation and respect, not attacks on their character or patriotism."


Conyers was among the first three United States Congress members to respond to GOP allegations. André Carson (D-IN) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) were the other two to condemn.

Committee assignments



Caucus membership



Electoral history

United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President District
1965–1967 89th U.S. House Democratic Lyndon Johnson District 1
1967–1969 90th U.S. House Democratic Lyndon Johnson District 1
1969–1971 91st U.S. House Democratic Richard Nixon District 1
1971–1973 92nd U.S. House Democratic Richard Nixon District 1
1973–1975 93rd U.S. House Democratic Nixon/Ford District 1
1975–1977 94th U.S. House Democratic Gerald Ford District 1
1977–1979 95th U.S. House Democratic Jimmy Carter District 1
1979–1981 96th U.S. House Democratic Jimmy Carter District 1
1981–1983 97th U.S. House Democratic Ronald Reagan District 1
1983–1985 98th U.S. House Democratic Ronald Reagan District 1
1985–1987 99th U.S. House Democratic Ronald Reagan District 1
1987–1989 100th U.S. House Democratic Ronald Reagan District 1
1989–1991 101st U.S. House Democratic George H. W. Bush District 1
1991–1993 102nd U.S. House Democratic George H. W. Bush District 1
1993–1995 103rd U.S. House Democratic Bill Clinton District 14
1995–1997 104th U.S. House Republican Bill Clinton District 14
1997–1999 105th U.S. House Republican Bill Clinton District 14
1999–2001 106th U.S. House Republican Bill Clinton District 14
2001–2003 107th U.S. House Republican George W. Bush District 14
2003–2005 108th U.S. House Republican George W. Bush District 14
2005–2007 109th U.S. House Republican George W. Bush District 14
2007–2009 110th U.S. House Democratic George W. Bush District 14
2009- 111th U.S. House Democratic Barack Obama District 14

See also

  • United States National Health Care Act - legislation introduced by John Conyers that would provide universal health care in the U.S.
  • PRO-IP Act - legislation introduced by John Conyers that would increase both civil and criminal penalties for trademark and copyright infringement and create a new executive branch office dedicated to enforcing intellectual propery laws.


References

  1. One of Michigan's finest, John Conyers!
  2. http://voteview.com/Is_John_Kerry_A_Liberal.htm
  3. Blair faces US probe over secret Iraq invasion plan
  4. The DRA One Year Later: Dems Waiting for Outcome of Legal Challenges to Law That Stiffens Medicaid Transfer Penaltiesfrom ElderLawAnswers.com, February 10, 2007
  5. CNN.com - Congressman accused of using staff to baby-sit - Apr 12, 2006
  6. Conyers accepts responsibility for possible ethics violations
  7. http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/action/HR801-09-0211.html
  8. http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=1945
  9. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-lessig-and-michael-eisen/is-john-conyers-shilling_b_171189.html
  10. A Truth Commission for the Bush Era?
  11. H.R.104 | To establish a national commission on presidential war powers and civil liberties.
  12. [1]
  13. [2]
  14. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/63325-conyers-blasts-gop-lawmakers-accusations-of-muslim-spies
  15. , Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007


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