The Justice Department’s New Civil Rights Chief Has Defended States Accused of Racial Gerrymandering

John Gore also helped defend a voting list purge in Florida.

Shawn Thew/CNP via ZUMA Wire

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

There’s a new boss at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the office at the center of politically fraught battles over enforcement of the nation’s civil rights laws, including laws that protect the right to vote. John Gore, a Republican attorney who has represented states accused of racial gerrymandering and Florida’s governor in a voter purge case, will take over the division until a permanent replacement is confirmed by the Senate, according to an NPR report Friday.

In private practice, Gore developed an expertise in redistricting cases, defending states against charges of racial gerrymandering. There are currently major cases before the courts across the country over whether states illegally used race to draw legislative districts. This fall, the Supreme Court will hear a case on the question of whether the Constitution puts a limit on political gerrymandering as well.

Gore, who joined the division in January as deputy assistant attorney general, has already played a key role in the administration’s activity on voting rights cases. According to ProPublica, Gore drafted a brief in the case over Texas’ voter ID law that announced the Trump administration’s withdrawal of key discrimination claims against the state. Several career attorneys refused to sign it.

Gore has also worked on a voter purge case, a key area of dispute between some Republican-led states and voting rights groups. Gore represented Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, in a case over his administration’s attempt to purge noncitizens from the state’s voter rolls before the 2012 elections. An analysis by the Miami Herald found that Hispanics and Democrats were disproportionately likely to be on the state’s list of suspected noncitizen voters. In 2014, a federal appeals court ruled that the purge had violated a federal law that prevents systemic purging within 90 days of an election. That law, the National Voter Registration Act, has come under fire from conservative election lawyers in recent years, and voting rights advocates worry that the Trump administration will use the law to purge voter rolls instead of to block purges like Florida’s. 

Gore, a former partner at Jones Day, a law firm that has contributed much of its top talent to the new administration, also represented the University of North Carolina when it was sued by the Obama administration over the state’s bathroom bill, which forced transgender individuals on government property to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender indicated on their birth certificate.

But Gore is not expected to permanently lead the division. In June, President Donald Trump nominated Eric Dreiband, a former official in the George W. Bush administration who has defended employers against discrimination claims, to lead the division. Dreiband, who is also a partner at Jones Day, is awaiting Senate confirmation.

WE'LL BE BLUNT:

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't find elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

WE'LL BE BLUNT

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate