It's clear that Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has valued Perez's leadership. Late last year, when asked about his legacy during a speech at the University of Baltimore School of Law, Holder spotlighted the work of the Civil Rights Division.
According to a recently released DOJ internal watchdog report, Perez faced big personnel-related obstacles when he took over the division.
The DOJ Office of the Inspector General report released last week detailed "polarization and mistrust" within the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division. While the report did not find that attorneys in the section made enforcement decisions based on race or partisan leanings, it did conclude that the bickering harmed the functioning of the section.
"Without question, the Voting Section in January 2009 had low morale and an unacceptable degree of staff conflict, which we believe were largely a product of the illegal hiring, transfers, case assignments, and other personnel practices that occurred in the Division from 2003 to 2006," Perez said in a written response to the report.
Perez added in his response that since 2009, "the Civil Rights Division and the Voting Section have undertaken a number of steps to improve the professionalism of our workplace and to ensure that we enforce civil rights laws in an independent, evenhanded fashion."
Perez was no stranger to the Civil Rights Division when he was confirmed to his post, having served as a prosecutor there from 1989 to 1994. He then served as special counsel to former Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) from 1995-1998. Most recently, before rejoining DOJ in October 2009, Perez was secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.
Republicans delayed Perez's confirmation to his current post in part because of his involvement with a case that included charges of voter intimidation in Philadelphia. But he was ultimately confirmed 72-22.
It was not immediately clear whether Perez will encounter increased opposition in the Senate to his new nomination. Some Republicans wasted little time expressing their concerns with Obama's selection.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) called Perez "the wrong man for this job." He said that Perez "had a controversial tenure at the Department of Justice where he has demonstrated a fundamentally political approach to the law."
Sessions slammed Perez's labor record, especially as it relates to immigration. Sessions said that Perez's views on illegal immigration are "far outside the mainstream… It is plain that if the policies of Mr. Perez were to be enacted, jobs for Americans would be harder to come by and wages lower."