Reports: Obama picks civil rights lawyer for Labor secretary

President Obama plans to nominate Thomas Perez, who heads Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to become the next secretary of Labor, according to reports.

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Perez, who previously headed Maryland’s labor department, would replace former federal Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who stepped down in January.

The Washington Post, citing two anonymous administration sources, reported Saturday that Obama intends to nominate Perez and Bloomberg reports that the president is “close to” selecting him.

The White House did not confirm the choice Saturday afternoon.

The Post account notes that Perez’s division has overseen voting rights cases against South Carolina and Texas, as well as numerous probes of police and sheriff’s departments.

Perez also worked in the Civil Rights Division earlier in his career, before  stints as a county council member in suburban Washington, D.C., and head of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

“As a federal prosecutor for the Division, he prosecuted and supervised the prosecution of some of the Department's most high profile civil rights cases, including a hate crimes case in Texas involving a group of white supremacists who went on a deadly, racially motivated crime spree,” his biography on the Justice Department website states.

“Mr. Perez later served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno. Among other responsibilities, he chaired the interagency Worker Exploitation Task Force, which oversaw a variety of initiatives designed to protect vulnerable workers,” it states.

Choosing Perez would place another Hispanic atop the Labor Department  following the tenure of Solis.

It would also provide even more diversity in Obama’s second-term Cabinet.

The White House faced criticism after tapping white men for the heads of the Defense, Treasury and State departments.

But more recently Obama nominated women to run the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.