Why Is John Bryson Important?

By a vote of 74-26, the United States Senate finally voted late yesterday to confirm John Bryson as Secretary of the Department of Commerce. President Obama nominated Bryson, a businessman from California, to the post at the end of May after then-Secretary Gary Locke became Ambassador to China.

Who is John Bryson? Why is his confirmation important to the civil and human rights community?

Bryson is the former head of Edison International, a power company based in California. According to this profile from Business Week,  he also has served on the boards of several other companies, including Walt Disney Company and Boeing. His public sector work includes serving as a founder of the Environmental Defense Fund, as well as serving on the boards of numerous nonprofits in California and across the country.

So why does the civil and human rights community care about the Commerce Secretary? The Commerce Department oversees the United States Census, which is a vital part of civil rights data collection and enforcement. For example, the Census Bureau recently determined which jurisdictions must provide language assistance under the Voting Rights Act.

To learn more about the Census and how it impacts civil and human rights issues every day, check out our Census project.