Friday, April 23, 2010

“Today’s Bullies are Tomorrow’s Civil Rights Defendants”

The Baltimore Sun, reporting on Tom Perez’ testimony on April 20th before the Senate Judiciary Committee, quotes the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, presumably in the context of alleged bullying of an LGBT individual, as stating, “Today’s bullies are tomorrow’s civil rights defendants.” Here are some highlights from the prepared testimony:

• The new Administration has filed 29 new employment discrimination cases.

• Nineteen of the 29 are USERRA cases.

• The other 10 are Title VII cases.

• Mr. Perez states that the Division is working “to reinvigorate its Section 707 pattern or practice enforcement program, establishing a targeting initiative that employs a systematic approach to identify potential cases.”

• Mr. Perez reports that the division has more than a dozen ongoing pattern or practice investigations.

• The Division is challenging, on a state-wide basis, New Jersey’s examinations for promotion to police sergeant on a disparate impact theory, contending that the exams used by all municipalities in New Jersey have a disparate impact upon African Americans and Hispanics. United States v. State of New Jersey, No. 2:33-av-00001 (D.N.J.), Complaint available here.

• Mr. Perez took credit for the decision in United States v. City of New York, 631 F. Supp. 2d 419 (S.D.N.Y. 2009). Even though this case was filed in 2002, when George W. Bush was President, and the last pleading, before Judge Pauley III’s July 2, 2009 decision, was filed in 2008, when George W. Bush was still President.

One personal note—sadly, in Mr. Perez’ discussion of school desegregation litigation, he refers to ongoing litigation against the Walthall, Mississippi schools. Forty-one years ago, when I started practicing law as a staff attorney in Jackson, Mississippi for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the cases that was then being litigated by another civil rights organization, was indeed the Walthall schools.

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