The Lonely Centrist

A place for reasoned debate about the issues of the day.

See my complete profile

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Truth About Politicization at DOJ

This post at the Volokh Conspiracy comments on the Washington Post's story re the decision of the Justice Department to remove political officials from any role in hiring for the Department's Honors Program. The Volokh Conspiracy notes that allegations about politicized hiring at the Department's Civil Rights Division may say more about the politicized nature of the career lawyers in the Division than it says about the allegedly political hiring of the Bush administration.

The Post article is almost comical in the examples it gives of allegedly biased hiring. For example:
According to a former deputy chief in the civil rights division, one honors hire was a University of Mississippi law school graduate who had been a clerk for U.S. District Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr. about the time the judge's nomination by President Bush to a federal appeals court provoked opposition by congressional Democrats, who contended that Pickering was hostile to civil rights.

Or this:
Another honors hire, a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law who had been president of the campus chapter of the Federalist Society, displayed a bust of President James Madison in his Justice office, according to a former honors program lawyer who was hired during the Clinton administration. A profile of Madison's face is the logo of the society, which is based on conservative precepts.

Or this:
"When I started," the former honors program lawyer said, "it was rare you met people whose civil rights credentials were that they were part of the Federalist Society, but it became a commonplace thing."

Or this:
Bill Condon, an honors hire in the civil rights division who graduated in 2004 from Regent University, a small Christian school in Virginia Beach, recounted his job interview recently in the school's alumni magazine. Condon wrote that, when an interviewer asked him which Supreme Court decision he disagreed with most, Condon cited a 2003 ruling that struck down a Texas law outlawing homosexual acts, a decision that has been a lightning rod for social conservatives.

Yes, it sounds like the Department is being overrun with people with mainstream views (they oppose the Supreme Court's decision striking down anti-sodomy laws, a decision which, for better or worse, is opposed by a very large segment, quite likely a majority, of the public)!; who were campus leaders (the President of the Federalist Society!!), who admire those who played a major role in drafting our Constitution (a bust of Madison!!!), and who clerked for federal judges (!!!!)

Fifteen months ago, in posts here, here, here, here here and here, we noted some of the signs of historic bias in the Department's Civil Rights Division. Private emails we received after that series, from those who would seem to us to be in a position to know, stressed that indeed the old process of leaving hiring to career employees was heavily biased against anyone who did not lean to the political left. All of this is unfortunate, but it also leaves us less than sanguine that the new hiring policy will depoliticize the Department.

Meanwhile, we're going to try out our new slogan:The Lonely Centrist: 15 months ahead of the Volokh Conspiracy. What do you think?

  • The Skeptic
  • Andrew Sullivan
  • Michael Barone
  • The New Republic
  • National Review
  • Democracy Project
  • Bob Bauer
  • Center for Competitive Politics
  • Ryan Sager
  • Going to the Matt
  • Professor Bainbridge
  • Volokh Conspiracy
  • Mystery Pollster
  • Amitai Etzioni
  • Alexander Chrenkoff
  • Middle East Media Research Institute
  • Right Democrat
  • Democrats for Life