The Wall Street Journal speculated that Labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez's "Spanish surname" would be the reason for his confirmation by the Senate, dismissing his qualifications and bipartisan support and reviving debunked right-wing media attacks on his record.
Perez is the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and was nominated for the position of Secretary of Labor by President Obama in March. The Associated Press reported that the Senate would begin Perez's confirmation process on April 18.
In an editorial in the April 18 print edition of the paper, the Journal implied that Perez's surname was the only reason that he might be confirmed instead of being blocked by Republicans:
Thomas Perez gets his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday, and our sources say Republicans are unlikely to ask more than a few tepid questions of the Labor nominee. They don't want to be seen opposing someone with a Spanish surname. That speaks volumes about Washington's current political standards, because Mr. Perez has more or less admitted that he deep-sixed a Supreme Court case to further his political agenda.
In addition, the Journal revived the repeatedly debunked claim that Perez improperly interfered in a St. Paul, MN, decision not to pursue a United States Supreme Court ruling in a civil rights case, accusing Perez of "stomping on minority claims":
To sum up, Mr. Perez fancies himself a civil-rights hero but he's happy to stomp on other minority claims when they interfere with his political priorities. He is fine with bending the law to suit his ideological purposes. This kind of behavior should be unacceptable in any government official.
Contrary to the Journal's claims, Perez is more than a Latino with a record smeared by conservative media. He enjoys the support of Republican officials that served in past administrations.
In a Hill op-ed, former George H.W. Bush Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Louis Sullivan praised Perez, asserting that Perez's work at HHS improved health care access to "marginalized groups":
In 2003 and 2004 I was fortunate to work with Tom on my Commission on Diversity in the Healthcare Professions and found him to be an engaging, thoughtful individual dedicated to public service and able to work with all.
Tom came to the commission with a solid reputation as an effective leader, having led the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services several years earlier. His work there helped improve access to better health care services for otherwise marginalized groups, such as the disabled. Together, our work on the commission focused on ways to bring diversity and excellence to our nation's healthcare workforce with the goal of providing better care to more people. Tom's ability to work with a wide range of stakeholders, in addition to his insights as a civil rights attorney who had worked in both the legislative and executive branches, provided an important contribution to our work.
John Dunne, the head of President George H.W. Bush's Department of Justice's Civil Right Division, called Perez "an excellent lawyer" and "a dedicated public servant with a deep commitment to the common good." Other Maryland Republicans who have worked alongside Perez have also offered their endorsements and praise.
Perez has also received praise from disability advocacy groups, with more than 60 disability organizations signing a letter supporting Perez's confirmation. Labor unions such as the AFL-CIO also support the nomination of Perez.
This bipartisan praise of Perez has not stopped the Journal from continuing its smears against Perez, turning to the racially loaded language often used by its right-wing media counterparts to attack presidential nominees.