Not long after Obama announced that Thomas Perez, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, was his nominee for Labor Secretary, a Republican senator vowed to block the nomination.
Perez’s was the Justice Department’s chief enforcer of civil rights issues in the United States. It was his actions while holding this role that have given Sen. David Vitter, R-La., pause.
In 2011, Vitter wrote a letter to the Justice Department complaining about a lawsuit filed against Louisiana based on the state’s voter registration efforts. He vowed to impede the nomination until his letter was answered.
Vitter also mentioned Perez’s role in a case involving the new Black Panthers and voter intimidation. According to a recently released report, Perez gave incomplete testimony during the case. Despite claims from Perez that no political leadership was involved in the decision to dismiss a George W. Bush-era lawsuit against the new Black Panthers for voter discrimination, further investigation found that top political appointees were in on the move.
Currently, Perez is the only Hispanic that has been named or nominated to Obama’s cabinet. He would replace Hilda Solis, the United States’ first Hispanic Secretary of Labor. While Republicans are gearing up for another confirmation battle, Perez has the support of the Democrats, labor unions, and the Latino community. It remains to be seen who will win this, the latest in a long line of battles over Obama’s cabinet.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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