Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Michigan)Judiciary Committee
- John Conyers, 77, entered the House of Representatives in 1965 and has now served 21 terms in the House. The second-most-senior member of the House, he is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. He is one of the 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
- Conyers was born and raised in Detroit. After serving in the National Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Korean War, he returned to Michigan, where he earned both his bachelor of arts (1957) and juris doctor (1958) degrees at Wayne State University.
- Conyers's wife, Monica Conyers, is currently serving as council president pro tempore for the Detroit City Council. They have two sons.
- Conyer's lengthy legislative record includes the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which he cosponsored. A response to the problems in the 2000 election, the law provides for "uniform and nondiscriminatory election technology and administration requirements," giving states $3.9 billion to replace outdated punch-card and lever voting machines and to improve voter education and training of poll workers.
- As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Conyers is the only member of Congress ever to have sat through two impeachment hearings one for Richard Nixon, which he strongly supported, the other for Bill Clinton, which he vigorously opposed.
- He led the successful drive to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday.
- In 2003 and again in 2006, several former aides to Conyers filed complaints that he breached House ethics rules. In letters to the House ethics committee, the FBI, and the U.S. attorney's office, they alleged that Conyers demanded that aides work on several local and state campaigns (including his wife's failed campaign for state Senate) and forced them to baby-sit and chauffeur his children. The ethics committee launched an informal inquiry, but partisan disputes over staffing issues shut down the panel in 2005. The committee has since hired a staff director and a team of investigators and is evaluating which investigations to pursue, including the Conyers matter.
- His legislative legacy includes the passage of a 1987 resolution declaring "the sense of Congress that jazz is [a] rare and valuable American national treasure." Jazz has been an integral part of his life from the ninth grade, when he started playing cornet and regularly visited Detroit's Paradise Theater to be in the presence, over the years, of jazz luminaries including Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, and Dizzy Gillespie. When in his office, he often listens to the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker, to whom he refers as his spiritual musical ancestors. His office includes such jazz mementoes as a stand-up bass resting in a corner, as well as jazz concert posters and a portrait of Billie Holiday.
- Conyers is an advocate for financial reparations for slavery. Every legislative session since 1989, he has sponsored a bill to establish a commission to "examine the institution of slavery" and "make recommendations on appropriate remedies": The bill is always named H.R. 40 in tribute to the "40 acres and a mule" once promised to freedmen.
- Conyers is the recipient of many awards for leadership, including a Southern Christian Leadership Conference Award, which was presented to him by Martin Luther King Jr.
- Chicago Tribune
- Toledo Blade
- Detroit Free Press
- Wall Street Journal
- Weekly Standard