Although the president has been in office for some eight months at this point, he is still proving himself to be monumentally lacking when it comes to picking people to fill positions across the federal government who are actually qualified for those positions.
The latest indicator of this is Trump’s choice to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Trump’s nominee, Eric Dreiband, is currently proceeding through his confirmation hearings, and he’s stirring up controversy as he goes.
Some years ago, while serving as General Counsel at the the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Dreiband testified against a measure known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
As the name of the measure suggests, it was meant to protect individuals from discrimination in pay practices. The measure established that claims with the EEOC would be valid if they were within a certain amount of time from the discriminatory, reduced pay being dished out, not just if the claims were within a certain amount of time from when the decision of what to pay the employee in question had been made.
Dreiband — who, remember, worked as the head of the agency meant to deal with these sorts of claims — thought that the “Fair Pay Restoration Act” was a terrible idea, and he testified to that effect before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in 2008.
Remarkably, keeping with the trend of Republicans — and particularly, members of the Trump team — having a testy relationship with the truth, Dreiband insisted when pressed by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he actually hadn’t testified against the measure.
That’s not even where Dreiband’s problems end. He also represented the University of North Carolina in the recent DOJ lawsuit against the school for their adherence to the state’s discriminatory bathroom law which barred transgender people from using the public restroom that corresponded to their gender. That lawsuit was unsurprisingly dropped by the Trump Administration after the government and the state worked out a deal to repeal sections of the law.
Of course, in a way, it’s unsurprising for the president to have tapped the monumentally unqualified Dreiband to lead the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. After all, the president tapped now-former Alabama U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions to be the nation’s Attorney General, and Sessions spent decades in lower level positions working against the civil rights of minorities like African Americans. Sessions even lied in his confirmation hearings, just as Dreiband has done in insisting that he did not testify against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Speaking out of a personal stake in the issue of North Carolina’s “bathroom law,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, is among those who spoke out strongly against Dreiband’s nomination, calling him “not simply unqualified for the extraordinary responsibility of leading the nation’s civil rights enforcement,” but also “morally unfit for the job.”
Dreiband is, by all appearances, on his way to being confirmed, since no Republican Senators have expressed opposition to his nomination, and the GOP holds 52 seats in the upper Congressional chamber. The opportunity for such situations to arise again in the near future remains, since there are an array of still-open positions across the federal government.
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