Justice Dept. shifts from race to religious discrimination





In recent years, the Bush administration has recast the federal government's role in civil rights by aggressively pursuing religion-oriented cases while significantly diminishing its involvement in the traditional area of race.

Paralleling concerns of many conservative groups, the Justice Department has argued successfully in a number of cases that government agencies, employers or private organizations have improperly suppressed religious expression in situations that the Constitution's drafters did not mean to restrict.

The shift at the Justice Department has significantly altered the government's civil rights mission, said Brian Landsberg, a law professor at the University of the Pacific and former Justice Department lawyer under both Republican and Democratic administrations.



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