Seven months into office, the Obama administration is beefing up the civil rights wing of the U.S. Justice Department.

In an interview with the New York Times, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Civil Rights Division will re-engage in some of the most important areas of American political life, including voting rights, housing, employment, bank lending practices and redistricting after the 2010 census.

The division will be looking especially hard at discriminatory polices and practices that disproportionately affect the poor and minorities. The Bush administration had largely shied away from those fights.

To bolster the unit, the White House has proposed hiring several hundred civil rights lawyers and more than 50 additional lawyers, the Times reported.

The division is “getting back to doing what it has traditionally done,” Holder was quoted in the newspaper as saying. “But it’s really only a start. I think the wounds that were inflicted on this division were deep, and it will take some time for them to fully heal.”

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