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Let’s look at a short list:

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry once advocated shuttering the U.S. Department of Energy and now he heads the agency overseeing federal energy policies.

After being a leading proponent of voucher programs that divert taxpayer funds from public schools, Betsy DeVos now heads the Education Department.

Former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has repeatedly sued the Environmental Protection Agency which he now leads.

Former surgeon Ben Carson now leads the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency he once criticized for its rules designed to combat segregation in housing.

Now the Trump administration has tapped a Washington labor lawyer known for representing large companies in discrimination lawsuits to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Eric Dreiband’s nomination has rightly drawn criticism from activists who are concerned about his commitment to civil rights. Civil rights groups have been closely watching how Attorney General Jeff Sessions reshapes the division.

The Civil Rights Division handles voting rights, hate crimes, religious discrimination and complaints of rights violations by police, among other duties.

Sessions is already shifting away from the Obama administration’s priorities for the division, which included aggressive intervention in local law.

Who leads the division is important to how the federal government handles civil rights cases.

Dreiband has a record of defending companies accused of violating civil rights.

Dreiband represented tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds against age discrimination claims and financial news organization Bloomberg in a pregnancy discrimination case. He defended clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who was not hired after she showed up wearing a religious headscarf.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Dreiband has a “history of restricting civil rights.”

Vanita Gupta, a former ACLU attorney who was head of the Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama, said Dreiband “has made a name for himself as one of corporate America’s go-to lawyers in an effort to restrict the rights and remedies for discrimination victims.”

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund released a statement strongly criticizing the nominee’s record.

“Dreiband has devoted most of his career to defending corporations in employment discrimination cases and advocating for weaker anti-discrimination protections in the workplace,”it said in a statement. “He also has a troubling lack of experience, having done no significant work in other issue areas central to the Division’s mission, including urgent priorities like voting rights and policing reform.”

Based on his record, Dreiband is the wrong choice to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.


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