Senate Confirms Nomination of Education Department’s General Counsel
Acting in a bipartisan fashion, the U.S. Senate last month confirmed the nomination of Brian Jones to serve as the Education Department’s general counsel.Jones, past president of the Center for New Black Leadership, had faced criticism because of his past opposition to affirmative action. As general counsel, Jones would assess legal issues for the department and work closely with the department’s Office for Civil Rights as well as the U.S. Department of Justice.Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee had enough concern about the nomination that it brought Jones in to testify recently about his past and current views. At that hearing, Jones pledged to follow current laws even if he disagreed with them. “The law is what it is,” he says.Jones’ nomination drew fire from civil rights groups, which took the unusual tactic of opposing an executive branch nomination. Jones “is adamantly opposed to affirmative action, including affirmative action in higher education,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.But Jones’ testimony helped ease members’ concerns, and the HELP Committee approved the nomination Sept. 13. The full Senate gave its approval the following day.
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