Holder to Crank Up Civil Rights Enforcement

Holder restoring Civil Rights Division to pre-Bush status
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2009 6:27 AM CDT
Eric Holder is spearheading the Obama administration's efforts to step up enforcement of civil rights measures.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
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(Newser) – The Obama administration plans to revitalize the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and beef up efforts against racial discrimination, the New York Times reports. Attorney General Eric Holder has been working to redirect the focus to tackling discrimination in high-impact areas like housing, voting rights, employment, and bank lending, where statistics show big disparities between races.

Under the Bush administration, the division focused more on individual cases of discrimination rather than more sweeping discriminatory policies, and shifted the target from racial to religious discrimination and human trafficking. The division, weakened by political hiring scandals, will be staffing up with 50 new lawyers, and "getting back to doing what it has traditionally done," Holder tells the Times, which notes that the effort is already drawing criticism from the the right that the Obama team, too, is politicizing the unit.