The key job in the federal government in terms of civil rights enforcement is the leader of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Trump has selected Eric Dreiband, who has represented numerous clients accused of violating civil rights laws. Activists are outraged.
The selection of Dreiband is in keeping with the selection of Betsy DeVos, an opponent of public education; the selection of Scott Pruitt, who sued the Environmental Protection Agency many times, to lead it; and the section of others who are antagonistic to the mission of the agency they head.
Eric Dreiband, a former George W. Bush administration official, represented R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in an age discrimination case and Bloomberg in a pregnany discrimination case as a partner at the law firm Jones Day. On Thursday, Trump tapped him to lead the division that handles voting rights, policing and discrimination cases.
Vanita Gupta, head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and a former leader of the civil rights division under President Barack Obama, said Dreiband’s past work showed he was not up for the job.
“Whoever leads the ‘crown jewel’ of the Justice Department must have deep relationships with stakeholders and marginalized communities, and have a deep, abiding faith in our nation’s civil rights laws,” Gupta said. “They must respect the laws that touch everyone, rights that people have literally died for. They must respect the role of what has been called the conscience of the federal government. In all those regards, Eric Dreiband is woefully unqualified to lead the Civil Rights Division.”
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