Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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A Sign of Progress?

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]wyldraven)

Washington Post: Political Appointees No Longer to Pick Justice Interns

The Justice Department is removing political appointees from the hiring process for rookie lawyers and summer interns, amid allegations that the Bush administration had rigged the programs in favor of candidates with connections to conservative or Republican groups, according to documents and officials.

The decision, outlined in an internal memo distributed Thursday, returns control of the Attorney General's Honors Program and the Summer Law Intern Program to career lawyers in the department after four years during which political appointees directed the process.

The changes come as the Justice Department is scrutinized for its hiring and firing practices because of the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. Some of the fired prosecutors were removed because they were not considered "loyal Bushies" by senior Justice and White House officials.

Justice officials said the change was prompted by a contentious staff meeting in early December, which included complaints that political appointees led by Michael J. Elston, chief of staff for Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, had rejected an unusually large number of applicants during the most recent hiring period. Last year, about 400 applicants were interviewed for the honors program -- the primary path to a Justice Department job for new lawyers -- down from more than 600 the year before.

The House and Senate Judiciary committees also are investigating allegations from an anonymous group of Justice employees that most of those cut from the application lists had worked for Democrats or liberal causes and that Elston removed people for spurious reasons that included "inappropriate information about them on the Internet."
So what we seem to be hearing is that this politicization of the Justice Department has been noticed, and someone is trying to put the brakes on it. I found this section of the article particularly telling with regards to how this hiring was done in the four years of appointees running the programs.
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.

One of his interviewers, Condon wrote, suggested that, coming from Regent, "I may be interested in some religious liberties cases" the civil rights division was bringing in a new area of emphasis for the division.

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