Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department’s civil-rights division, gave a speech to the left-leaning American Constitution Society last Friday, with plenty of red meat (or, I guess, blue vegetables) for those assembled. In particular, he promised to bring plenty of disparate-impact lawsuits — those are the ones where practices that are not discriminatory in their terms, intent, or application are still challenged because they yield politically incorrect numbers. The Supreme Court’s decision in the New Haven firefighters case this year suggested caution in using this approach, but Attorney General Holder and Mr. Perez are ramping up these cases, as I discussed earlier here and here.
Anyway, it’s important but not surprising that Mr. Perez has set such enforcement priorities, which predictably drive employers and others to throw out or deemphasize perfectly legitimate selection devices (like tests) and embrace surreptitious quotas. It is amusing, however, that this part of his speech was not in the text that the division posted on its website.