Tuesday, September 01, 2009
7061: Holder Is No Coward.
From The New York Times…
Justice Dept. to Recharge Enforcement of Civil Rights
By Charlie Savage
WASHINGTON — Seven months after taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is reshaping the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division by pushing it back into some of the most important areas of American political life, including voting rights, housing, employment, bank lending practices and redistricting after the 2010 census.
As part of this shift, the Obama administration is planning a major revival of high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies, in areas ranging from housing to hiring, where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly. President George W. Bush’s appointees had discouraged such tactics, preferring to focus on individual cases in which there is evidence of intentional discrimination.
To bolster a unit that has been battered by heavy turnover and a scandal over politically tinged hiring under the Bush administration, the Obama White House has also proposed a hiring spree that would swell the ranks of several hundred civil rights lawyers with more than 50 additional lawyers, a significant increase for a relatively small but powerful division of the government.
The division is “getting back to doing what it has traditionally done,” Mr. Holder said in an interview. “But it’s really only a start. I think the wounds that were inflicted on this division were deep, and it will take some time for them to fully heal.”
Few agencies are more engaged in the nation’s social and cultural debates than the Civil Rights Division, which was founded in 1957 to enforce anti-discrimination laws.
The division has been at the center of a number of controversies over the decades, serving as a proxy for disputes between liberals and conservatives in matters like school busing and affirmative action. When the Nixon administration took office, it sought to delay school desegregation plans reached under former President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Reagan administration dropped the division’s policy of opposing tax-exempt status for racially discriminatory private schools. And former President Bill Clinton withdrew his first nominee to lead the division, Lani Guinier, after her writings about racial quotas were criticized.
But such dust-ups were minor when compared with sweeping changes at the division under the Bush administration, longtime career civil rights lawyers say.
Now the changes that Mr. Holder is pushing through have led some conservatives, still stinging from accusations that the Bush appointees “politicized” the unit, to start throwing the same charge back at President Obama’s team.
Read the full story here.
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This is getting interesting.
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