By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor
On October 11, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Eric Dreiband to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ). The vote was 50-47.
The reaction from the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders was negative. Several groups sounded the alarm as Dreiband’s nomination moved through the Senate. In 2007, Dreiband testified against a bill to prevent long-term pay discrimination against women. In 2010, he testified against legislation to strengthen protections for older Americans facing age discrimination at work.
“The confirmation of Eric Dreiband to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice is yet another example of Republicans picking the fox to guard the henhouse. Mr. Dreiband lacks experience in many of the civil rights issues that fall under the Division’s jurisdiction – most importantly, voting rights, hate crimes, and police accountability,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chair Cedric Richmond (D-LA).
“Our civil rights have been under attack ever since Attorney General Sessions was confirmed to lead the Department of Justice. However, confirming Mr. Dreiband to lead the Civil Rights Division – one of the most prominent and powerful divisions at the Department – will make a bad situation worse,” Richmond added.
The former head of the Civil Rights Division under President Obama, Tom Perez, who is now Chair of the Democratic National Committee, also offered a scathing response to Dreiband’s confirmation.
“When I led the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under President Obama, we made it our mission to protect the rights of all Americans – from prosecuting hate crimes and workplace discrimination to fighting voter suppression and holding police departments accountable. Eric Dreiband’s career is anathema to that mission. Not only does he lack the experience necessary to lead such an important division, he has also fought aggressively against critical civil rights legislation,” Perez asserted in a statement.
Dreiband’s confirmation is followed by the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court which took place last week. With less than four weeks left to Election Day, many civil rights leaders are focused on the possible change in power in January 2019 should Democrats take control of the U.S. House or Senate.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and communications strategist. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke