The Corner

Economy & Business

The President, the Senate, and the EEOC

There are five commissioner slots on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At present, only one is a Republican; three are Democrats, and there is one vacancy. In two days, on July 1, there will be another vacancy, because this Democrat’s term expires.

What this means is that, if the two vacancies are filled quickly, we could have a 3–2 Republican majority; if they are not, we will have a 2–1 Democrat majority. The EEOC enforces all the private sector anti-discrimination employment laws, so this is a big deal. Does the administration have anything in the works, or will it dawdle along?

I know there are lots of vacancies the president needs to fill. But the White House needs to understand that this is different. If the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education is vacant, for example, it at least has an acting head who is a political appointee, and a department secretary who is a presidential appointee and is overseeing the office. That is not what we will have at the EEOC, which is alas an independent agency that cannot be bossed around by the president — too bad, but there you are — nor can the president appoint “acting” commissioners until permanent nominees are confirmed. Rather, this is analogous to there being a 4–3 liberal majority on the Supreme Court, free to do God knows what unless and until President Trump got around to filling those two vacancies.

So nominating good people to the EEOC and getting them confirmed should be an administration (and Senate) priority.

I should add that the general-counsel position at the EEOC, also appointed by the president and also a big deal, is vacant as well.

Update: I wrote all the above, and sent it in to the my editors at NRO, and then saw the announcement this afternoon on the White House website that the president has sent in a nomination for one of the two commissioner vacancies. That’s good, but a) the Senate now has to confirm that nomination, and b) the president and the Senate still have the other vacancy to fill. As of now, there is a 3–1 Democratic majority, to become a 2–1 Democrat majority on Saturday.

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