Civil Rights

More than a year after the election, it looks as if the Clinton Administration will finally fill the top civil rights job at the Justice Dept. After extensive lobbying of the Congressional Black Caucus, the White House appears to have won a nod of approval for John Payton, now the top lawyer for the District of Columbia, to become Assistant Attorney General for civil rights. Caucus members, still angry at Clinton for withdrawing the nomination of Lani Guinier to the post early this year, were unhappy after an early November meeting with Payton. At the session, Payton failed to offer strong views on a 1992 Supreme Court decision that made it easier to challenge the creation of majority black districts under the Voting Rights Act. Since many caucus members owe their jobs to the existence of such districts, they are counting on a strong legal defense from the Administration. The White House may assuage their fears by naming an experienced civil rights litigator as Payton's deputy. Meanwhile, Clinton's choice for the top job at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is also running into resistance. Civil rights groups feel that New York labor lawyer Ida Castro lacks experience in handling job-discrimination cases.