President Clinton's choice to head the long-leaderless Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice seems an excellent one, judged by his professional and personal history. Deval Patrick rose from very humble surroundings to over-achiever status at Harvard Law School and then, after litigating cases for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, made partner at an establishment Boston law firm which has given Massachusetts two recent governors, one a liberal Democrat and the other a conservative Republican.
Mr. Patrick's political views on civil rights issues are significantly to the left of those of many conservatives and many Republicans, but that is no ground for their opposing him. This is the way the system works. The American people chose a president who is neither Republican nor conservative, and his views -- plus the views of those who voted for him -- are what the Department of Justice is supposed to turn into policy.
This newspaper called President Clinton's first nominee for this post, Penn law professor Lani Guinier, an "unwise" choice, on the basis of legal and political views we found far outside the mainstream. When the president got around to reading her law review articles, he came to the same conclusion. He indicates he expects no surprises this time, and neither do we.