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The Civil Rights Enforcement Section is committed to the strong and vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws. It is committed to taking a proactive approach in identifying civil rights violations that should be redressed by the Attorney General. It is committed to working with the public, state, federal and local government agencies, and with civil rights and community organizations to identify such projects. When civil rights violations are confirmed, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section will endeavor to prosecute those who have violated the law, and will seek the strongest remedies to deter further violations of those laws.
The Civil Rights Enforcement Section provides legal representation to state agencies that are charged with enforcing specific California civil rights laws. The Section provides advice and consultation services to these agencies and represents them before state and federal courts.
These agencies include the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, which are responsible for enforcing the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Native American Heritage Commission, which is charged with enforcing the Native American Heritage Act that protects Native American burial and sacred sites, and the Commission on the Status of Women, which studies issues affecting women and makes recommendations to the Legislature and Governor regarding the same. The Section also represents the Division of the State Architect on matters relating to the Division's responsibilities respecting state disabled access laws, and the California Department of Housing and Community Development with respect to issues concerning state laws that encourage the building of low and moderate income housing within the State.
In addition to representing these state agencies, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section represents the Attorney General in enforcing civil rights laws that vest the Attorney General with independent enforcement powers. These laws include, but are not limited to, California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits arbitrary discrimination by public accommodations, and state laws that guarantee persons with disabilities equal access to public transportation, publicly-funded facilities and buildings and privately-funded public accommodations. Enforcement of these laws is accomplished by conducting investigations and, where necessary, by instituting legal actions. The Section also represents the Attorney General in enforcing the Ralph Civil Rights Act and the Bane Civil Rights Act, which provide civil remedies for hate crimes.
Pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the National Association of Attorneys General and the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice have agreed to work together on affirmative civil rights projects. The Civil Rights Enforcement Section is a member of each of the five task forces created through the MOU. These task forces address disabled access to places of public accommodation, mortgage lending discrimination, housing discrimination, bias-related crimes, and employment. The Section may engage in the initiatives and projects of these task forces.
The Civil Rights Enforcement Section also prepares and files briefs amicus curiae on behalf of client agencies and on behalf of the Attorney General in cases brought by third parties in which significant civil rights issues will be resolved.
Additionally, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section also educates the public about California and federal civil rights laws to ensure that the public is aware of their rights and remedies under those laws. The Section also engages in outreach to the civil rights community and the public to gather information to assist them in identifying appropriate subjects for investigation and/or litigation.
The Civil Rights Enforcement Section also provides advice to the Attorney General on proposed and pending civil rights legislation, and proposes ideas for civil rights legislation. Finally, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section advises the Attorney General on civil rights issues affecting the Department of Justice.