The nomination of T. Perez

This appointment to the Labor Department should not be delayed any longer

Thomas E. Perez has experience in the labor sector, in addition to his proven commitment to civil rights. He is the right person for the position of labor secretary for the Obama administration.

Although the White House seems to agree with this, so far there has been no official announcement. What is known is that there has been open, Washington-style speculation about this nomination, which means releasing a name to measure political reactions to it. And there was no shortage of these.

Conservatives deeply dislike Perez, because from his current position as assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department, he moved to block attempts in several states to limit voter access to the polls by changing election laws.

This strict enforcement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act has earned him a reputation for being too liberal for the conservative opposition. Proof of this is some convenient manipulation of a recent Civil Rights Division analysis—which reveals internal political conflicts during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations—to exclusively focus on the Democratic period, when Pérez was in charge. And if that were not enough, people have also tried to tarnish his reputation with other controversies within the Justice Department, like Operation Fast and Furious.

In reality, Perez did a very good job in the Justice Department, just like he did before as secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

This track record makes Perez the ideal person to replace Hilda Solís as head of the Labor Department. At the same time, it adds a Latino presence to the cabinet, pleasing a segment of the electorate that was key to Obama’s re-election.

We think it is time for President Obama to officially announce Perez’s appointment. Conservative criticism should not come as a surprise, and neither should the appointment of a progressive to the labor area in a Democratic administration. The longer the appointment is delayed, the stronger its opponents will feel.