Harmeet Dhillon in running for DOJ top job

Harmeet Dhillon, a top California state Republican operative is a front-runner for the position of chief of the Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department. Harmeet Dhillon, 48, a senior Republican leader from California, interviewed with attorney general Jeff Sessions last week, The Wall Street Journal reported on March 9th.

Harmeet Dhillon, a successful trial lawyer in California, the first woman and Indian-American to represent her state in the national Republican Party, if selected for the post would replace Vanita Gupta, another Indian-American who held the post in the second term of the Obama administration. Dhillon could not comment on the matter when contacted.

Dhillon received national recognition when she covered her head with her shawl and said a Sikh prayer at the Republican Party Convention last year where President Donald Trump was anointed as the candidate for the White House.

If nominated by US President Donald Trump, San Francisco-based Dhillon would replace another Indian-American Vanita Gupta to the position in the Department of Justice.  Gupta, who was appointed by former US President Barack Obama, put in her papers once Trump was sworn in. The name of Dhillon, an accomplished lawyer, has popped up at a time when the Indian-American community have been hit by at least three hate crimes in the last two weeks. Established in 1957, the Civil Rights Division works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the vulnerable members of society.

Heading an eponymous law firm in San Francisco founded in 2006, Dhillon has received numerous awards as a top lawyer, including the Northern California Super Lawyer in business litigation by Thomson/West Publishing, an accolade reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the jurisdiction.

She previously served at the Justice Department before going into private practice, and is credited with growing GOP support in the heavily Democratic state. As an at-large Indian-American delegate from California, Dhillon delivered the invocation to start the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland July 19, 2016. Watched by not just the thousands of Republican delegates at the Convention, but the nation and the world, Dhillon is remembered for delivering a Sikh prayer in Gurmukhi.

Born in Punjab, Dhillon came to the United States as a small child with her family. She attended public schools in North Carolina, where her father started his medical practice, and she graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. She majored in Classical Studies at Dartmouth College, where she was the editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth Review. She did law at the University of Virginia Law School.

A lifelong Republican, she served as Vice Chair of the California Republican Party for three years before becoming the first woman-of-color ‘National Committeewoman’ to the Republican National Committee May 1, 2016, when the California GOP elected her at the state convention. With that election, Dhillon also became the first Indian-American on the RNC, and promised to stir things up during her four-year stint at the high table. That term may be cut short if the Trump administration selects her to head the important position as head of the Civil Rights Division at DOJ.

Criticism has come from conservative circles. According to Powerline, an online post from the Right, “Dhillon has certain liberal sympathies and holds certain liberal views. As discussed below, this turns out to be the case. Thus, the selection of Dhillon for a position as important as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights would be a stunning betrayal of conservatives by the Trump administration. Conservatives believed (and still do) that President Trump would eschew political correctness and identity politics, relieve local police departments of excessive federal oversight, clamp down on voting fraud, and take a hard line on illegal immigration.”

Dhillon has considerable litigation experience having represented a range of clients in state and federal courts and administrative tribunals, from e-Commerce leaders, private companies, entrepreneurs, celebrities, film and music artists, authors, advertising executives, franchisees, public utilities, educational institutions and nonprofits. She has won numerous awards and recognition for her pro bono legal work on behalf of domestic violence survivors, religious discrimination plaintiffs, and political refugees, according to her website. Her experience also encompasses securities, entertainment, employment discrimination and civil rights matters. She has developed a niche practice offered by a mere handful of companies in California, in election and campaign law matters.

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