Obama Boosts Numbers of Civil Rights Lawyers

Obama Boosts Numbers of Civil Rights Lawyers

The inspector general found that starting in 2003, the Bush administration changed hiring rules giving its political appointees more control over civil service hiring. They illegally screened out liberals and filled civil service vacancies with conservatives—disguising them as “real-thinking Americans.” The Obama administration, however, is reversing those rules.

Published June 1, 2011

Step back conservatives, under President Obama’s administration, lawyers hired under the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division have more civil rights backgrounds than those during the Bush administration.

 

One would think that lawyers with civil rights backgrounds should be sought out and hired for national, civil rights attorney positions, but that was not always the case.

 

The inspector general found that starting in 2003, the Bush administration changed hiring rules giving its political appointees more control over civil service hiring. They illegally screened out liberals and filled civil service vacancies with conservatives—disguising them as “real-thinking Americans.”

 

The Obama administration, however, is reversing those rules.

 

“During this administration, the department has restored the career-driven, transparent hiring process that will produce the most qualified attorneys for the job,” Xochitl Hinojosa, a Justice Department spokeswoman told the New York Times.

 

In fact, in order to encourage transparency, President Obama appointed a supervisor, Thomas E. Perez, to oversee the new hires. Perez then gave career professionals authority to choose who they advised to fill the openings for the experienced lawyers.

 

The hires over the past two years have more ties to civil organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; they also graduated from more selective law schools than those hired during the Bush administration. 

 

The release of the Justice Department’s inspector general’s findings come just as the House Judiciary subcommittee prepares to hold its first oversight hearing today on the Civil Rights Division, the first since the Republicans took control of the House under President Obama.

 

 

(Photo: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Written by Danielle Wright

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