In September, President Obama nominated Charlotte Burrows to the vacant commissioner slot at the EEOC. Burrows is former counsel to the late-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and a former attorney at DOJ. Some EEOC-watchers were surprised by the Burrows nomination since there was some supposition that the EEOC slot was going to go not to Burrows but to Vanita Gupta. Ms. Gupta was, of course, not nominated to the EEOC but was recently nominated to be the acting head of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
Ms. Gupta was the deputy legal director of the ACLU and director of its Center for Justice. According to a Washington Post story on her nomination, which included kind words for Ms. Gupta from some on the right,
Gupta…has been praised by a wide array of political activists for her civil rights work, especially on prison reform, an issue on which liberals and conservatives have found common ground.
‘In that zone, she’s been good to work with and a serious person,’ Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said in an interview. ‘She’s been open to working with conservatives on good policy. She has played a strong role in the left-right cooperation in criminal justice issues.’
David Keene, who was president of the National Rifle Association from 2011 to 2013, also praised Gupta’s ‘collaborative approach.’
The Civil Rights Division has not had a permanent head since its former director, Tom Perez, was confirmed as labor secretary in July 2013. Pres. Obama’s next nominee failed in the senate on a 47-52 vote because, as again noted by the Post, “Debo Adegbile, a lawyer from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to head the division…set off a firestorm on Capitol Hill, where conservatives adamantly opposed him, and the…the Fraternal Order of Police… lobbied hard to derail the nomination because of Adegbile’s involvement in an appeal filed on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an internationally known prisoner convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.”
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More