Justice News

Department of Justice
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Attorney General Eric Holder Welcomes Thomas E. Perez as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder today welcomed the confirmation of Thomas E. Perez as the new Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Perez was confirmed today by the U.S. Senate.

"I am very pleased to welcome Tom Perez back to the Justice Department," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "One of my highest priorities as Attorney General has been to ensure that the Civil Rights Division will again continue to advance the interests of justice and equal protection for all Americans. Tom is an exceptional lawyer and both the Department and the nation will benefit from his leadership and legal expertise."

The mission of the Civil Rights Division is to enforce federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex, handicap, religion and national origin. Since its establishment in 1957, the Civil Rights Division has grown dramatically both in size and responsibility. It enforces the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, and 1968; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended in 1970, 1975 and 1982; the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980; and additional civil rights provisions contained in other laws and regulations. These laws prohibit discrimination in education, employment, credit, housing, public accommodations and facilities, voting, and certain federally funded and conducted programs. The division also prosecutes actions under several criminal civil rights statutes designed to preserve personal liberties.

Perez returns to the Civil Rights Division, where he worked from 1988 to 1999. He began as a career prosecutor in the Division’s Criminal Section and rose to become Deputy Assistant Attorney General. He served on detail from the department as special counsel to U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy from 1995 to 1998. Perez was director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights from 1999 to 2001.

Since 2007, Perez was the state of Maryland’s Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. From 2002 until 2006, he was a member of the Montgomery County, Md., Council. He was a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law from 2001 to 2007.

Perez began his law career as a clerk for U.S. Judge Zita Weinshienk of the U.S. District Court of Colorado from 1987 to 1989. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1987. He received his M.P.P from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1987 and his A.B. from Brown University in 1983.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014