The following piece was published in The Nation on January 10, 2018. Click here to view the full article.
By Dima Khalidi
Kenneth Marcus couldn’t name a single thing about Trump’s abysmal civil-rights record that he disagreed with this past December during a Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to a top post in the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Education (DOE).
That, unfortunately, is unsurprising. Since taking office, most of President Trump’s nominees have been appallingly underqualified, corrupt, or openly hostile to the mission of the agency they’re appointed to lead. Kenneth Marcus is no exception. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee is expected to vote on his nomination next week, followed by a full Senate vote shortly after. His record should disqualify him from the job.
If confirmed as head of the Office for Civil Rights, Marcus will control the implementation of federal education policy intended to protect vulnerable student groups from discrimination. He will have the power to manage civil rights investigations and to determine their outcomes. He will have the power to create federal civil rights policy, and he will decide how the Department prioritizes its already anemic resources—for example, should the Department assign its attorneys to investigate allegations of institutionalized anti-black racism, or political speech alleged to be anti-Semitic? That will be Marcus’s choice, and his record makes clear the choices he’ll make.