Thomas Perez, the person reportedly about to be named the president’s nominee for labor secretary, makes Chuck Hagel seem like George C. Marshall.
Quin Hillyer documents that as the chief of the Justice Deaprtment’s civil rights division Perez proved to be a cruddy lawyer:
He has led the administration’s racial scaremongering against voter ID laws, but got smacked down hard by the U.S. District Court for the D.C. Circuit, so that elections in South Carolina this week will go ahead with the law in effect. (This wasn’t a partisan decision: The unanimous three-judge panel included Clinton appointee Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.)
Indeed, Perez doesn’t even seem to be a very good lawyer at all: His positions also have been rebuked by courts in Arkansas (about the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act), again in the D.C. District Court, in New York on an education case (U.S. v. Brennan), in a Florida abortion case where Perez’ team was abusively prosecuting peaceful protesters, and most particularly in a major Perez loss in Florida when trying to force the state not to remove non-citizens from its voter rolls.
Perez is a dogged advocate of the type of quotas that have been struck down by the Supreme Court.
I won’t revisit all the behavior of the Obama Justice Department but a nearly-300 page report has been released by the administration’s own inspector general. The IG went out of the way to be even-handed, even when there was substantial evidence of politicization. However, his conclusion — that is of the Obama Justice Department’s own investigator — is damning for those, including Perez, who have run the DOJ since 2009:
[O]ur investigation revealed several incidents in which deep ideological polarization fueled disputes and mistrust that harmed the functioning of the Voting Section. As detailed in Chapter Four, these disputes arose at various times both among career employees in the Voting Section and between career employees and politically appointed leadership in CRT. On some occasions the incidents involved the harassment and marginalization of employees and managers.
We believe that the high partisan stakes associated with some of the statutes that the Voting Section enforces have contributed to polarization and mistrust within the Section.
The report admonishes the Bush administration as well. But for now none of the appointees cited are up for a Cabinet post. On the other hand, we have before us Perez who was in charge of the civil rights division for the last three years.
The IG’s conclusion is chilling:
Given the troubling history of polarization in the Voting Section, Division leadership needs to promote impartiality, continuity, and professionalism as critical values in the Voting Section, and leadership and career staff alike must embrace a culture where ideological diversity is viewed as beneficial and dissenting viewpoints in internal deliberations are welcomed and respected. We also believe that leadership and career staff must be continually mindful of the need to ensure the public’s confidence in the Voting Section’s impartiality. We were surprised and dismayed at the amount of blatantly partisan political commentary that we found in e-mails sent by some Voting Section employees on Department computers.
Does the leader of a critical division of the Justice Department that had to be warned to respect these basic principles of fairness and good governance warrant promotion to secretary of labor? I don’t think so, but since we have Hagel there are apparently no standards for confirmation.