Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In shift, DOJ's Civil Rights Division is hiring lawyers with civil rights backgrounds

I made a slight alteration in that headline from a story in the New York Times in order to demonstrate a "duh" moment. Its title is: In Shift, Justice Department is Hiring Lawyers With Civil Rights Backgrounds. Its important to note that the article is actually all about the Civil Rights Division.

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has reversed a pattern of systematically hiring conservative lawyers with little experience in civil rights, the practice that caused a scandal over politicization during the Bush administration...

The Justice Department’s inspector general found that the Bush administration — which changed hiring rules to give its political appointees at the Civil Rights Division greater control over civil service hiring starting in 2003 — had violated hiring rules by screening out liberals and by actively seeking to fill civil service vacancies with conservatives, referred to privately by one Bush official as “real Americans” and “right-thinking Americans.”...

President Obama’s appointee to supervise the division, Thomas E. Perez, went further in a 2009 policy giving career professionals sweeping authority to choose whom to recommend to fill openings for experienced lawyers, a much larger group. Under the policy, if an assistant attorney general for civil rights wants to overrule a recommendation, he must do so in writing. Mr. Perez has not overruled any recommendations.

The article points out that today, the House Judiciary Committee will hold its first oversight hearing on the Civil Rights Division since the Republicans took over the House. My headline summarizes the beef the Republicans are likely to have with the new guidelines established for hiring by the Obama administration...hiring lawyers with civil rights backgrounds to work in the Civil Rights Division.

You see, the right doesn't have many (any?) organizations where a civil rights lawyer can gain the necessary experience to do this work. Why is that? Could it be that they don't have a commitment to the enforcement of civil rights? Just ask Sen. Rand Paul. So most of the new hires have backgrounds with organizations like the NAACP or ACLU, who Republicans consider "leftist."

So, as the saying goes...the problems the Republicans have with all of this are "a feature, not a bug."

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