When Alexander Acosta resigned as Secretary of Labor, his deputy, Patrick Pizzella, took over as Acting Secretary. Rather than keeping Pizzella in place, President Donald Trump announced on July 18, 2019, that he intends to nominate Eugene Scalia, the son of late-Justice Antonin Scalia, as the new Secretary.
President Trump tweeted that Eugene Scalia is “highly respected not only as a lawyer but as a lawyer with great experience working with labor and everyone else.”
Eugene Scalia is well-known, especially in Republican circles. He was Solicitor in the Labor Department during the George W. Bush administration and a special assistant to William Barr when Barr was U.S. Attorney General in that same administration. Scalia also represented Bush in Bush v. Gore before the U.S. Supreme Court.
As a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., Scalia co-chaired the firm’s labor and employment practice group for 12 years and co-chairs its administrative law and regulatory practice group. He is a management-side attorney and reportedly has a reputation for litigating against federal labor and securities regulations. He faced union opposition in 2002 when he was nominated for the Solicitor position.
Support for the nomination has broken down along party lines. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) stated, “I’m confident [Scalia will] be a champion for working Americans against red tape and burdensome regulation as Labor Secretary.” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated that with this nomination President Trump was betraying workers and union members and, instead, “has again chosen someone who has proven to put corporate interests over those of worker rights.”
Scalia is expected to be confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Labor.