DeVos Appointee to Head Office of Civil Rights is Chilling
Last Friday Pro Publica blogger Annie Waldman posted a profile of Candace Jackson, Betsy DeVos’ nominee to serve as de facto head the Office of Civil Rights (OCR)… and it is chilling. Unlike her predecessors, who typically had in depth legal background and experience, Ms. Jackson has “…limited background in civil rights law”. Her inexperience, though, is less problematic than her perspective on the mission of OCR:
A longtime anti-Clinton activistand an outspoken conservative-turned-libertarian, she has denounced feminism and race-based preferences. She’s also written favorably about, and helped edit a book by, an economist who decried both compulsory education and the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Jackson’s inexperience, along with speculation that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will roll back civil rights enforcement, lead some observers to wonder whether Jackson, like several other Trump administration appointees, lacks sympathy for the traditional mission of the office she’s been chosen to lead.
My description of Mr. Jackson as “de facto head of OCR” is based on the workaround Betsy DeVos has concocted. Instead of nominating her to head the division, which would require approval by the Senate, Ms. DeVos appointed her as deputy assistant, leaving the inexperienced Ms. Jackson in charge of “…about 550 full-time department staffers, who are responsible for investigating thousands of civil rights complaints each year.”
As Ms. Waldman notes in her profile of Ms. Jackson, as an undergraduate at Stanford she wrote articles in opposition to affirmative action and feminism, and later was involved in several libertarian organizations, one of which opposed mandatory education. When And in the recent past?
In the past few years, she has operated her own law firm. According to a recent biography on her website, her practice specialized in “business, entertainment, and litigation matters,” for a range of clients, “from restaurants to medical clinics, and from authors and musicians to filmmakers and record labels.”
In 2005, Jackson wrote a book on the allegations of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton, titled “Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine.” She gained national attention last October after she arranged for several of Bill Clinton’s accusers to attend a presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Jackson sat with the women in the front of the audience. A few days before the debate, Jackson established Their Lives Foundation. In registration documents, she described two of its purposes as “giving public voice to victims of women who abuse positions of power” and “advocating for and against candidates for political office.”
Less than a week after the debate, Jackson posted on Facebook that her foundation “supports all victims of power abusers,” but labeled Trump’s accusers “fake victims.” Since the initial announcement of her Education Department role, her Facebook page has been taken offline.
And so the person responsible for overseeing “…thousands of civil rights cases per year” is a libertarian, anti-affirmative action, anti-feminist whose only legal experience is in “...business, entertainment, and litigation matters”. These are sad times for progressive educators and those who value social justice.