Posts Tagged ‘Matt Nosanchuk’
Friday, June 11th, 2010

The Justice Department’s liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community, Matt Nosanchuk, said Thursday the LGBT perspective has a “seat at the table” in the Obama administration.

Matt Nosanchuk (photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

Nosanchuk, who works as a senior adviser to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez, was part of a panel that spoke at the National Press Club on Thursday about the Obama administration’s work on LGBT issues.

The Justice Department has taken some heat from some in the LGBT community for defending the Defense of Marriage Act and the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy even though the Obama administration opposes them.

Nosanchuk indicated he has had input into several Justice Department briefs defending the two to make sure they didn’t use offensive language or arguments.

“I wasn’t there when the first [DOMA] brief was filed,” said Nosanchuk, who joined DOJ last August. “I was there when the second one was filed. I think we would all kind of agree that the language in the first brief was not … necessarily the best language. But it sort of speaks for itself because the language and the approach changed.”

Nosanchuk said that in the second DOMA brief, the Obama administration abandoned some of the more inflammatory arguments, such as citing studies that claimed gay parents were not as effective.

Still, Nosanchuk said the Justice Department has to defend all of the laws on the books, even if the administration disagrees with particular laws.

“The Department of Justice has a historic and traditional obligation to defend the laws that Congress passes,” Nosanchuk said. “We don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing with laws to enforce.”

Nosanchuk said that the previous administration chose not to enforce some laws, specifically within the Civil Rights Division, and that was not a practice the Obama administration wanted to continue.

The Civil Rights Division, Nosanchuk added, has worked closely with the Civil Division to defend the Matthew Shepard Hates Crimes Act in a lawsuit brought by the Thomas More Law Center.

Speaking for himself, Nosanchuk said that cultural wedge issues like battles over gay rights “tend to fill a vacuum” in times when there were fewer pocketbook or hot-button issues in a campaign.

Within the Justice Department, the president of DOJ Pride, an organization for LGBT employees, said in October there had been a “big leap forward” on such issues in recent years.

Later this month, the Justice Department will host a June Pride Month event in the Great Hall of the Robert F. Kennedy Justice Department building. The June 21st event will feature Perez; Attorney General Eric Holder; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D- Minn.); Sharon Lubinski, the U.S. Marshal in Minnesota; and Jenny Durkan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington.

Monday, April 5th, 2010

The Civil Rights Division is planning to establish a new Policy Section that will provide other sections in the division with policy, regulatory and legislative assistance, according to an e-mail to Justice Department staff from Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez.

The new section will play “an active role in numerous critical legal and policy issues that contain an important civil rights dimension, but do not fit neatly into any of the division’s established sections,” Perez wrote.

A person familiar with the idea for the new section said it is in the early stages of planning and will require approval from Justice Department leadership.

“The section is still in the approval process,” Perez wrote. “Upon formal approval, Karen [Stevens] will serve as Acting Section Chief while we conduct a search for a permanent chief.”

Stevens’ appointment to the acting position represents a comeback of sorts for her within the department. Stevens was one of the lawyers transferred out of her job by Bradley Schlozman — the former acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights during the Bush Administration — who was found to have improperly considered politics when hiring for career positions, according to the Washington Post. Stevens filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint after her transfer, reached a confidential settlement with the department and returned to her old job in the fall of 2006, the newspaper reported.

Also playing an active role in getting the Policy Unit up and running is senior counselor Matt Nosanchuk, according to Perez. In a speech in February, Nosanchuk said that the department is working to train U.S. Attorneys and law enforcement officers around the country about the new hate crimes law, which protects the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community from bias-motivated crimes.

New Acting Chief of Special Litigation Section

The Civil Rights Division has named Judy Preston as Acting Chief of Special Litigation Section.

“For the past 18 years, Judy has proven herself to be a passionate and dedicated civil rights attorney, and I am grateful for her willingness to lead the section during the upcoming transition,” wrote Perez.

The previous Section Chief, Shanetta Cutlar, is moving over to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, where she will serve as Senior Advisor to the Director.

Perez said the division will be looking for a permanent chief for the section, as well as two deputy chiefs.

Other Changes

After 39 years in the Civil Rights Division, the head of the Employment Litigation Section, John Gadzichowski, will retire later this year, Perez said. A replacement was not named in the e-mail.

“John has dedicated his career to the enforcement of civil rights law, and I hope everyone will join me in thanking John for his commitment and years of service,” Perez said.

Perez also named two new Deputy Chiefs in the Criminal Section — Kristy Parker and Karima Maloney. Parker has worked in the Criminal Section since 2002, and before that worked in Constitutional Torts in the Civil Division. Maloney joined in the Criminal Section in 2003.

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Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
Matt Nosanchuk

Matt Nosanchuk

We’ve obtained an e-mail from University of Pennsylvania Professor Tobias Wolff, a top LGBT adviser on the Obama campaign, announcing the news to his associates.

Wolff said that Matt Nosanchuk, a former adviser to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), will join the division as a senior counselor. Nosanchuk ”will be the front office point person on LGBT issues for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division,” Wolff wrote in the e-mail.

POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein, who first got hold of the email last night, reported:

The hire looks like yet another effort by the Obama Administration to calm the anger of the gay community over a series of perceived slights, including a controversial brief filed in June in a lawsuit over the Defense of Marriage Act.

Justice Department lawyers, dialing back their defense,  said in a court filing yesterday that DOMA discriminates against gays but that the new administration will continue to uphold the law as long as it is on the books.

A DOJ spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on Wolff’s e-mail.


DOJ spokesperson Alejandro Miyar issued the following statement on Nosanchuk:

“Matt Nosanchuk joined the Civil Rights Division earlier this summer as a Senior Counselor. He brings extensive experience as a civil rights attorney from his time in Congress, as well as work in the non-profit and private sectors. Among his primary duties, Matt will help manage the Division’s Criminal Section and pursue key policy priorities. He will represent the Division in many capacities, including work with Congress and the LGBT community. He returns to the Justice Department after having been a career attorney in the Office of Policy Development during the Clinton Administration.”

Andrew Ramonas contributed to this report.