A divided Senate confirmed Thomas Perez on Thursday to become secretary of labor, elevating the son of Dominican immigrants who as a top Justice Department official won praise from Democrats for aggressively enforcing civil rights laws and criticism from Republicans for being a liberal ideologue.
Perez, 51, is a Buffalo, N.Y., native who once worked as a trash collector. Since earning a Harvard University law degree, his career has included stints as a Justice Department civil rights prosecutor and an aide to Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., before taking over Justice’s civil rights division in 2009.
At Justice, he has challenged Texas and South Carolina laws requiring voters to show photo identification and sued the office of outspoken Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, alleging that Latinos were racially profiled during a crackdown on immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
“He has spent his career fighting for working families, protecting our important civil rights laws and turning around troubled agencies,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Perez angered conservative voter fraud conspiracy promoters (John Fund of the WSJ) because Perez enforced the Voting Rights Act. Obviously, as we have learned since the smear campaign against Perez, conservatives oppose the Voting Rights Act.