Commentary: An Attorney General Determined to Leave an Imprint

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 25:  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder makes a statement on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the Voting Rights Act at the Justice Department on June 25, 2013 in Washington, DC. The high court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which aimed at protecting minority voters, is unconstitutional  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Commentary: An Attorney General Determined to Leave an Imprint

Eric Holder’s decision to extend the ban on profiling is an example of how the Obama administration seeks to stand for the marginalized.

Published January 16, 2014

It has been reported that Attorney General Eric Holder has decided that the Justice Department will extend its ban on the use of racial profiling, relegating the practice more and more to the dustbin of history.

It is yet another sign of how important it is to have the nation’s top law officer committed to shifting policies in a way that speaks to the concerns of Americans who have been marginalized. If there is anyone who questions where President Obama’s commitment stands with regard to civil rights issues, that person need look no further than the work being undertaken by Holder at the Justice Department.

Last summer, when the United States Supreme Court decided to block the most significant portions of the Voting Rights Act, barring the practice of requiring clearance from the Justice Department in changing local voting practices, Holder filed suit against Texas for its restrictive voter identification law.

“Thanks to the hard work of our Civil Rights Division, we are continuing to refine and re-focus current enforcement efforts across the country,” Holder said last year, speaking to the NAACP.  “And while the suits we’ve filed in Texas mark the first voting rights enforcement actions the Justice Department has taken since the Supreme Court ruling, they will not be the last.”

That’s a strong position against an assault against voting rights that has been championed by Republican-controlled legislatures in several states, like Texas, where there are also Republican governors. All of that, needless to say, has made Holder the object of passionate loathing by conservative leaders throughout the country.

His decision to expand the ban on profiling is certain to add fuel to the fire that has long been blazing among Republican conservatives toward him and President Obama. Yet, Holder seems completely undeterred. And the Justice Department seems prepared to prohibit profiling not just on race, but also on religion, national origin, sexual orientation and gender.

It will be fascinating to see what Holder takes up next in his quest to restore voting rights and to create a more constitutional and less discriminatory manner of law enforcement officers doing their job. But it is virtually certain that there will be many more examples of his principled stand on behalf of justice.

It will be apparent also from the increasingly heated reaction he will continue to receive from those forces in politics who remain steadfastly opposed to any action taken by Holder’s boss.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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