Top Trump Civil Rights Official Is An Expert At Defending Republican Redistricting

John Gore, a partner at Jones Day, will play a key role in leading the federal government's enforcement of civil rights laws.

WASHINGTON — President Trump has selected a senior lawyer who worked to defend Republican-led states against challenges to their redistricting plans after the 2010 Census for a top civil rights job in the Justice Department.

John Gore, a partner at Jones Day, is Trump's choice for Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. The division is responsible for enforcing civil rights laws and investigating allegations of civil rights violations by state and local governments.

Jones Day announced Gore's new role on Friday, shortly after Trump took the oath of office. Above the Law first reported the news on Thursday night.

Gore worked with Mike Carvin — the lawyer who regularly sparred with the Obama administration at the Supreme Court — in defending Florida, New York, and South Carolina's redistricting plans in 2012.

More recently, Gore was part of a team of lawyers — including others headed to the Trump administration — who represented the University of North Carolina in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU against state and university officials challenging the state's anti-transgender HB 2 "bathroom bill."

While the state officials defended the law on its merits, UNC did not. Instead, the lawyers argued this past year that "the UNC Defendants have not enforced or threatened to enforce [HB 2] at all." They asked to be dismissed from the lawsuit, which has been put on hold.

(Gore, Noel Francisco, and James Burnham — all of whom are taking roles in the administration — withdrew from representing UNC in the case earlier this week.)

Marc Elias — the Perkins Coie partner who led Democrats' election law litigation strategy as Hillary Clinton's general counsel this past election cycle — sees the move as part of a potential path ahead.

Although Elias complimented Gore personally, he added, "I have no illusions about what it means for voting rights and redistricting. Those of us who support voting rights are on our own for the next four years."

In fact, hours after Jones Day announced Gore's new role on Friday, the Justice Department filed a brief in the federal court in Texas that is overseeing the longstanding challenge to that state's voter ID law. The Obama administration Justice Department had opposed the voter ID provision in court.

On Friday, Justice Department lawyers sought a delay of an upcoming scheduled hearing in the case "because of the federal government’s change in administration, which took place on January 20, 2017."

The filing continued: "Because of the change in administration, the Department of Justice also experienced a transition in leadership. The United States requires additional time to brief the new leadership of the Department on this case and the issues to be addressed at that hearing before making any representations to the Court. This motion is made in good faith and not for the purposes of delay."

The court quickly granted the request — setting the next hearing in the case for Feb. 28 — after a telephone hearing before Magistrate Judge Jason Libby.

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