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Holder Expanding DOJ for Civil Rights


Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans to reshape the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division after the 2010 Census is conducted, fulfilling a campaign promise from President Barack Obama.

The Justice Department is looking to hire about 50 civil rights attorneys to get the division "back to doing what has traditionally been done," Holder told The New York Times.

The expanded division would concentrate on cases pertaining to employment and housing discrimination -- issues at the crux of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, introduced by a team of bipartisan senators on August 5. The division would also work on bank lending practices, redistricting, voting rights, and other high-impact civil rights cases.

Matt Nosanchuk, an attorney in the civil rights division, has also been appointed as the liaison for upcoming LGBT-related cases.

Holder's Justice Department is attempting to break away from its tarnished image following revelations that only those who showed dedication to the Republican Party and conservative values would be hired and retained during President George W. Bush's administration. Leslie Hagen, a liaison between the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorneys' committee on Native American affairs, was fired in 2006 after a top department aide learned that she is a lesbian, despite sexual-orientation discrimination protections within the Justice Department. Monica Goodling, senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was reportedly responsible for removing Hagen from her position. After an investigation by the inspector general it was discovered that Goodling had also been instrumental in preventing Hagen from seeking a new position within the Justice Department. Hagen was rehired to her former post in February.

This summer, the Department of Justice has issued two briefs defending the law that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal.

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