Continuing with his “fox guarding the henhouse” Cabinet secretary philosophy, Trump has nominated attorney Eugene Scalia, a son of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, to head the Department of Labor.
In his tweet announcing the nomination, Trump referred to Scalia as “a lawyer with great experience working with labor and everyone else.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The only real experience the younger Scalia has “working with labor” is undermining workers in favor of corporations. As the New York Times noted, “Scalia has a long record of representing Walmart and other companies that pushed back against unions and tougher labor laws.” Walmart brought Scalia aboard when they were accused of firing corporate whistleblowers.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) noted the nomination of Scalia highlights the utter falsehood of Trump’s ostensibly pro-worker stance. With Scalia, “Trump has again chosen someone who has proven to put corporate interests over those of worker rights. Workers and union members who believed candidate Trump when he campaigned as pro-worker should feel betrayed,” Schumer said.
Scalia worked in the Department of Labor in the George W. Bush administration, but for the last several years he has been an attorney in the private sector at Gibson Dunn. On his profile page at the firm, he details several of his significant litigation wins, and they’re all distinctly anti-labor. For example, he beat the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a case where the EEOC argued that telecommuting was a reasonable accommodation for a disability. He also bragged about “vacat[ing] the largest [Americans with Disabilities Act] class ever certified.”
As much as Scalia is an enemy of labor, he is a friend to big banks. Mother Jones profiled Scalia in 2014, when he was at the height of his crusade against the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Dodd-Frank was passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. It increased regulatory oversight for big banks and other parts of the financial sector, and established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Of course, Republicans hated Dodd-Frank, and Scalia has been their go-to lawyer to undermine the law. Mother Jones described him as a “one-man scourge to the reformers who won a hard-fought battle” to pass the legislation.
Scalia replaces the embattled Alex Acosta, who is stepping down over his role in giving convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein a sweetheart deal. Conservative Republicans were happy to see Acosta go. That isn’t because they felt his actions regarding Epstein were repulsive but because they found Acosta insufficiently enthusiastic about gutting labor protections.
They’ll certainly have no such complaint about Scalia.
Published with permission of The American Independent.